HURRICANE ZONE MISSION: WATER 28 HEADLINE HURRICANE ZONE MISSION: WATER STAFF There are 16,000 miles of waterways within the Houston-Galveston region of Texas, USA. These waterways provide an estimated 80% of the region's drinking water, however more than 80% of monitored waterways don’t meet state water quality standards.1 Real-Time Data Jenny Oakley, Environmental Scientist for the EIH, is at the forefront of the research team. Her work for EIH contributes to a number of projects, ranging from endangered species assessments for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to water quality sampling for local watershed protection plans. Real-time data are the heart of the watershed research Oakley and her team are doing at the monitoring locations. They rely on sophisticated instruments to record water level at the sites. Data are collected every 15 minutes and is then transmitted hourly via GOES satellite to EIH, providing an overview of gauge level at the sites. “As part of the [Houston-Galveston Area Council’s] work, the team needed to get some ideas of discharge for these two water bodies, of which there's no previous data on, to complete their loading calculations,” Oakley explained. From Science to Safety In 1991, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) passed the Texas Clean Rivers Program—a program focused on conducting water quality monitoring, at the watershed level, within each river basin. As part of the ongoing program, the Houston-Galveston Area council (H-GAC) serves as the regional water quality partner for the TCEQ. They contracted the Environmental Institute of Houston (EIH) to install and maintain two continuous flow measurement stations in the San Jacinto-Brazos and the Brazos-Colorado Coastal Basins. These sites were on Caney Creek in Matagorda County and Oyster Creek in Brazoria County—both located about an hour and a half south and southeast of Houston. 1 Houston-Galveston Area Council. How’s the Water? GAUGING the Situation in Real–Time with the Amazon Bubbler Preparing to measure discharge at the Caney Creek site post Hurricane Harvey Rescuers search flooded streets during Hurricane Harvey