|All Images (c) B. Gurtner|
Voices from the audience concurred with Chairman Tommy Moore’s assessment of the state of our waterways and bays. Concerns about the mounting trash and sediment flowing into the bays from open drains, especially after a heavy weekend of visitors, were aired along with pictures of where debris collects particularly along Little Bay shoreline. The cost of cleaning up the debris is estimated at $40,000/year, not including volunteers who clean up at their own expense. Recently, in two hours, volunteers picked up 4 truckloads of trash along the shoreline from Traylor St. to Alice Fay’s Restaurant.
As the land is disturbed for development, sediment run-off increases. Pictures of the silting of Little Bay over the past 10 years, showed dramatically how quickly Little Bay has filled with sediment and is now at about a depth of 4’. Keith Barrett, Harbor Master reported that a study done a few years ago estimated the cost of just clearing the ski basin channel would be $2 million. That would still leave most of Little Bay filled with sediment. The costs are rising along with the damage to our ecosystem which directly affects our fishing, birding, water recreation and quality of life here on the coast.
A presentation by David Batts and Mark Wharton from Construction Eco Services in Houston, talked about how work on the Chesapeake Bay along with stricter government regulations have led to the development of better ways of controlling the impact of trash, sediment and other contaminants going into the water. Currently, Houston requirements for storm water systems take up approximately 1/3 of the acreage of every piece of property developed to balance the amount of land made impermeable and to lower the risk of flooding that Houston has been noted for in the past. Not just better storm sewers, there are also LID (Low Impact Development) designs such as rain gardens, bio swales, rainwater harvest, bio retention, permeable pavements and parking lot islands that enhance appearance plus control water flow. Time and monies currently spent to remove trash and sediment from the water can be reduced greatly in the future by keeping both out of the bays with improvements to our area. Good presentation, gentlemen.
We looked at just one small area of our bay system and how it was being affected. We are surrounded by water on this peninsula. In a few short years the population of Rockport will increase to 10,000 at which time we will be required to have these systems in place. The time is now to start correcting our current problems and planning for a storm water system to handle future growth and usage of this area, not just to keep it as it is today, but to make it better."
Text & Images by Barbara Gurtner. Barbara is the Founder & Contributor of the WWN. Thanks for the recap, Barbara!