Texas’ beaches bucked na­tional pol­lu­tion trend in 2009, data show

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE -

GALVE­STON — Texas beaches were cleaner than those in many parts of the coun­try last year, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day.

The Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil found that there were more than 18,000 beach closings and ad­vi­sories na­tion­wide in 2009, the six­th­high­est level in the 20 years they’ve been tracked. Texas, how­ever, had a 27 per­cent de­crease in such in­ci­dents, with the num­ber of closings and ad­vi­sories drop­ping from 318 in 2008 to 231 last year.

An en­vi­ron­men­tal group said the de­crease was largely due to a twoyear drought rather than any new state ef­forts to pre­vent runoff.

“It’s just rain­ing less. We had a drought,” En­vi­ron­ment Texas Di­rec­tor Luke Met­zger said. “The lack of rain just means the pol­lu­tion isn’t run­ning off into the Gulf.”

Met­zger ex­pects pol­lu­tion lev­els for this year to be far worse be­cause of the rainy sum­mer.

The Texas Com­mis­sion on En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity did not im­me­di­ately com­ment.

The wa­ters of the Texas Gulf are nat­u­rally more brown than in other parts of the re­gion be­cause Mis­sis­sippi River mud and sed­i­ment flows west. Al­gae and other sea plants also are com­mon, mak­ing the wa­ter ap­pear cloudier.

Yet, of all the wa­ter sam­ples taken at 65 of the state’s 169 beaches, only 5 per­cent had pol­lu­tion ex­ceed­ing ac­cepted lim­its. The na­tional av­er­age was be­tween 6 per­cent and 7 per­cent. Pol­lu­tion ex­ceeded the lim­its in 6 per­cent of the sam­ples in 2008 and in 9 per­cent in 2007.

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