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Coastal Bend program seeks to address water pollution in area bays

Kathryn Tunnell is with the Coastal Bend Bays And Estuaries Program. Her organization has received a 3 year $400,000 grant from the EPA for that work.

NUECES COUNTY, Texas — Scientist and environmental groups said that there is a lot of pollution throughout the Baffin Bay Watershed. 

The area covers Nueces, Jim Wells, Duval, Kleberg, Kenedy and Brooks Counties. The pollution concerns include high bacteria levels in the creeks that feed into Baffin Bay and illegal dumping. 

Dr. Michael Wetz is the Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes for the Harte Institute. He said San Fernando and Petronila Creeks also feed into the bay. The creeks serve as mother nature's drainage system for a huge six county area.

"They create this sort of magical habitat for a lot of different things like birds, fish or other wildlife," Wetz said. "So they are very important they play a very important role in the environment."

Wetz led a water quality sampling program in Baffin Bay after nearby residents were concerned about the water quality in the area. That study is now part of the Baffin Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts.

"We have a study on going right now looking at pollution going into a Baffin Bay," Wetz said. "Los Olmos Creek is not the only place where there is a trash problem. San Fernando Creek, Petronila Creek there's just some incredible really nasty dumping that's going on in all of those creeks, a lot of garbage it's really sad."

Wetz also told 3News that the water in Los Olmos Creek is not drinkable because of its high salt content. He also pointed out that it contains high bacteria levels and nutrients that cause algae blooms. The Coastal Bend Bays And Estuaries Program Is hoping to clean up the creeks in the watershed by attacking one of the main pollution sources. Illegal dumping.

Kathryn Tunnell is with the Coastal Bend Bays And Estuaries Program. Her organization has received a 3 year 400-thousand dollar grant from the EPA for that work. That job is expected to begin later this year and could end up bringing real changes along essential waterways that are vital to wildlife and plants.

"We're going to be working with the Coastal Bend cancel of governments and the Nueces river authority to identify these communities where are illegal dumping is happening," Tunnell said. "And then work with those communities to place dumpsters and remove the barriers that often leads to illegal dumping."

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