The Galveston Bay Plan

The Galveston Bay Plan
Click image for the online version of The Plan
In Spring 1999, The Texas Legislature passed the Texas Estuaries Act (HB 2561) , making Texas Estuary Programs programs of the State of Texas. The Galveston Bay Estuary Program is a program of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) , successfully working with a variety of partners and stakeholders to facilitate implementation of The Galveston Bay Plan. The Plan is a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Galveston Bay ecosystem, developed as a part of the National Estuary Program process. The Plan was developed by building consensus among citizens, industry, business, development, academia, and government.

Partnerships between various levels of government and non-governmental entities have leveraged funds, saved money, and created innovative implementation opportunities. A Report Card (Link to RC) summarizes the progress.

What is a National Estuary Program?
National Estuary Programs were established by Congress under Section 320 of the Water Quality Act of 1987. The administrator of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given authorization to convene management conferences to develop Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMPs) for estuaries of national significance that are threatened by pollution, development or overuse. Texas applied for the NEP for Galveston Bay through the Governor’s office and the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program (GBNEP) was established for Galveston Bay in 1989. Galveston Bay is one of 28 estuaries included in the program. The overall mission of the NEP is to protect and restore the health of estuaries while supporting economic and recreational activities.

Plan Development Process:
Federal funds through EPA, coupled with a state match through the Texas Water Commission (now TNRCC), made it possible for the GBNEP to work through the management conference and the public, from 1990-1995, to:
       1) identify priority problems,
       2) fund studies to characterize these problems and,
       3) draft a plan for the future preservation of Galveston Bay.

In 1995, The Galveston Bay Plan was complete. With support from the Texas Legislature, the Galveston Bay Estuary Program transitioned from planning (Clean Water Act Section 320 funds under the NEP) to implementation (primarily a state and local effort augmented by federal demonstration grant funds). At that time, the word “National” was omitted from the program name. Today, an eight-person staff oversees activities related to Plan implementation, including performance of the following functions:
  • Tracking and monitoring implementation of specific actions by The Plan's partners;
  • Coordinating activities of The Plan's Partners;
  • Identifying and communicating bay improvements to agencies, stakeholders, and the public;
  • Redirecting The Plan where improvements lag;
  • Conducting public outreach and education to increase awareness of Galveston Bay;
  • Advocating conservation of the estuary; and,
  • Convening meetings of the Galveston Bay Council, and advisory council for plan implementation.

    In accordance with The Plan, an advisory organization, The Galveston Bay Council, was created to:

  • Provide an ongoing forum for technical and stakeholder review and involvement during implementation of The Plan;
  • Contribute to assessments of Plan effectiveness and participate in periodic redirection of The Plan initiatives;
  • Maintain agency commitments to implement The Plan, assure efficient cross-jurisdictional coordination, and if necessary, facilitate resolution of disputes;
  • Set annual priorities for the implementation of action plans; and,
  • Advise the TNRCC during consistency reviews of eligible federal projects.

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