GALVESTON (FOX 26) - For the unskilled eye it's hard to gage both the good and the bad in the treasure that is Galveston Bay. Amid glistening water and wildlife on the fly there loom invisible threats - danger and degradation, that will spread, if unchecked.
"That's because of Dioxins and PCB's found in the fish tissues," said Scott Jones of the Galveston Bay Foundation as he explained "advisories" limiting the consumption of seafood in parts of the Bay.
Getting a data-driven bead on the Bay's health is what GBF's annual report card is all about. There is both encouragement and concern to be drawn from this year's findings.
On the plus side, water quality in the Bay has improved to an "A" rating.
"You look at Galveston Bay and you compare it to any other large estuary around the country and we are doing pretty well," said Lisa Gonzalez of the Houston Advanced Research Center which complied the report.
But in other critical areas, Galveston Bay is faring much worse, notably the Bay area's shrinking or damaged habitat drew a grade of "D".
Wildlife depletion, pollution control, coastal change and toxicity risk to humans were all assessed a grade of "C" signaling the necessity of vigilance.
"If we have another million or two million people who are moving down here, that's going to put increased pressure on water quality for sure. We are going to lose more habitat. So how do we balance that and how do invest back in the bay?" asked Bob Stokes, Executive Director of the Galveston Bay Foundation.
In the short term, GBF believes there is no bigger threat to address than the abandoned Dioxin dump known as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits. Dispersal of the toxins contained there could rapidly turn the Bay's passing mark into environmental failure.
"If you leave that stuff in place it’s going to be there for 500 years, 800 years and it’s in a very volatile place where it floods, where we get hurricanes. We just think it makes sense to take it out of there," said Stokes.
The easy to understand 2016 Galveston Bay Report card can be found at http://www.galvbaygrade.org/