CCA Texas teams with Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries to ensure the health of the Nueces River Delta

CCA Texas
CCA Texas teams with Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries to ensure the health of the Nueces River Delta
Rincon Bayou in the Nueces Delta.

Freshwater inflows are the life line to Texas's coastal estuaries. Without the necessary inflows, the estuaries would be void of the critically important nutrients that are needed for Texas's coastal resources to remain healthy. CCA Texas Executive Board approved $70,000 in matching funds during its November 2011 meeting at the request of Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), CCA Texas's habitat program. These dollars will be used as matching funds by Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) for the installation of a water management system that will ensure that freshwater inflows will stay within the Nueces Bay Delta.

Freshwater inflows to estuaries up and down the Texas coast have been continuously cut back over time due to upstream needs and the construction of reservoirs throughout river basins across the state. The Nueces Bay Delta has faced the same fate as many others. With the construction of Lake Corpus Christi and the fact that the Nueces River actual flows into the bay downstream of the delta, the delta has been starved for needed water flow for years and only receives water during flooding events, caused by over-banking of the river, and local heavy rainfalls.

"Restoration of historical freshwater inflows in river deltas should be a high priority in Texas. While we all know that freshwater inflows are vital to the health of our bays and estuaries, the location and timing of these inflows is just as critical," commented Jay Gardner, HTFT Chairman. "Freshwater that flows into a bay and misses the delta doesn't do as much good as it potentially could. Freshwater flowing through a delta makes a freshwater/saltwater gradient that defines what an estuary is; a great place for fish and crabs to grow up. These organisms depend on that gradient, which is what your CCA dollars are helping to provide. We are proud to be partners with the CBBEP on this project that is improving fisheries habitat by managing critical freshwater inflows to our bay systems."

Through agreement, the City of Corpus Christi is required to pump the equal amount of water into the delta as flows into Lake Corpus Christi. These events help replenish nutrients into the delta, but some of this water often backflows back into the river channel, never seeing the delta. This project will install water control gates into Rincon Bayou that will help ensure water stays in the delta and passes through the entire delta system providing the necessary salt gradients and nutrients that are important to a healthy estuary.

"We are pleased and excited to partner with CCA on such an important project that will have such a significant impact on freshwater inflows to our estuaries," commented Jace Tunnel, Project Manager for CBBEP. "The approximate 15,000 acre marsh complex frequently experiences hypersaline conditions which inhibit growth for many important species such as plants that provide habitat for small fish that are food for larger fish. Through this project a more natural salinity regime will be achievable, and it will restore primary food chain processes back to this system."

CCA Texas continues support of Texas Parks Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries summer intern program

CCA Texas Executive Board approved $52,000 at its November meeting for Texas Parks Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries summer intern program in 2012. This continued support brings CCA Texas's contributions to this program to in excess of $175,000.

"CCA Texas is proud to continue supporting this program," commented Robby Byers, CCA Texas Executive Director. "Good education is important for the future marine biologist of the state and there is not a better way than to get the actual hands on training that this program provides."

Ecosystems that will be included in the program for 2012 include: Lower Laguna Madre, Upper Laguna Madre, Corpus Christi Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay, Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake.