|What's happening? |
A team led by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) received a grant to conduct scientific research that will assist in the development of freshwater inflow recommendations that maintain the health and productivity of Texas’ Guadalupe-San Antonio and Mission-Aransas estuaries.
The team will use the Collaborative Learning Method to bring scientists and other stakeholders such as ranchers, fishermen, boaters, and planners together to better understand the effects of land use and climate change on freshwater inflows, the circulation of freshwater between estuaries, and the biology of commercially and ecologically important marine animals.
Ultimately, they will use this knowledge to create a system dynamics model of the Guadalupe-San Antonio and Mission-Aransas estuaries that stakeholders can use to develop recommendations on how much water should be allowed to flow to support communities, and how much to support the estuaries upon which local economies and quality of life depend. Why this project?
The estuaries of central Texas are vital to the state’s economy, supporting a multi-billion dollar fishing industry and a growing tourist industry. Estuaries need freshwater to maintain healthy habitats for population, changes in land use, and ashifting climate have all combined to reduce the amount of freshwater that estuaries along the state’s central coast receive.
Historic drought conditions and increasing water demands spurred the Texas legislature to consider the health of estuaries in a new piece of legislation. Senate Bill 3 calls for a participatory public process to establish freshwater flow standards based on input from two groups of stakeholders—the Basin and Bay Area Stakeholder Committee (BBASC) and the Basin and Bay Area Expert Science Team (BBEST).
The goal of this legislation is to develop freshwater inflow policies that account for the social, physical, and biological drivers that affect the flow of freshwater. This project aims to support that goal by filling identified gaps in the scientific knowledge required to develop accurate flow recommendations.