The Texas Drought (After All This Rain) Is Still a Thing

Categories: Environment

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The drought, it's still a thing.
It seems like there's been a lot more rain lately, but don't let all that moisture from the sky fool you. Houston is doing better, but a chunk of Texas is still in a condition that is commonly known as drought.

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Poachers Kill More Than 50 Sharks in Gulf

Categories: Environment

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U.S. Coast Guard photo
Rotting shark carcass pulled from the water.
Coast Guard crews in the Gulf of Mexico have found what they're calling a bootleg fishing net operation about 37 miles north of the Mexican border that left more than 50 sharks dead and decomposing in the ocean.

According to the Coast Guard, "Crews in South Texas located and recovered a gill net with 65 dead sharks Monday. An Air Station Corpus Christi HU-25 Falcon airplane crew located the fishing gear and the Coast Guard Cutter Amberjack crew retrieved the gill net and brought it back to Station South Padre Island."

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Appeals Court Rules Texas Not at Fault in Whooper Deaths

Categories: Environment

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Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
The whoopers, themselves.
Back in the 1940s, there were only 16 whooping cranes left in the world. The birds, hunted for their white feathers (used for ladies hats, of all things) and shot for sport, were on the brink of extinction, but they didn't go the way of the Dodo.

Instead, years of conservation efforts brought the last naturally migrating flock of birds back from the edge. Over the next 60 years, the birds survived, wintering on the Texas coast in the same spot they've flown to for centuries, and summering in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada.

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Several Houston-Area Hospitals Make List for High Infection Rates

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Mark Hillary
Some hospitals will be penalized for having higher infection rates than their peers.
The Centers for Disease Control said more than 1.5 million people get infections while they are in the hospital. As part of a program through the Affordable Care Act, hospitals that receive Medicare money will be hit with a penalty if they have too many people get sick while seeking treatment.

A report in the Houston Chronicle pointed us to a Texas Tribune article that says 58 Texas hospitals could get lower Medicare payments this fall because their "rate of preventable infections or conditions are higher than at peer hospitals."

Harris County had around a dozen hospitals make it on the list, with several in the Houston area.

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County Attorney Vince Ryan Files Suit Against Industrial Container Cleaning Business

Categories: Environment

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Photo courtesy of County Attorney Vince Ryan
The tank cleaning facility in question.
We're not terribly strict about most things having to do with the environment around here. Maybe it's because we're living on the carcinogenic coast, or maybe it's because that's just not how things go in the Lone Star State, or maybe both. But when a company is spitting out enough chemical smells and liquids to bother the people living in the area, someone is bound to take notice.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has filed a lawsuit against a Channelview industrial tank and container cleaning business demanding that the business stop the pollution and noxious odors that allegedly flow from the facility.

Ryan contends that these emissions and waste materials are causing neighbors to complain of nausea, headaches and burning eyes, according to a statement released Monday. The defendant, Texas Industrial Box Maintenance, located at 15531 Market Street, cleans tanks and containers used in the transportation and storage of chemicals and regulated waste.

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Sargassum, Galveston's Seaweed that Won't Quit

Categories: Environment

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Photo Courtesty of Dana Ranslem
Just call it seaweed island.

Update 2:20p:
We included comments from Texas A&M researcher Robert Webster.

We thought we'd be in the clear by now, or close to it, but the seaweed invasion continues. Photos taken today from the shores of Galveston show an extremely green body of water that looks utterly gross.

While tourists might not like it, it's good eatin' for sea turtles, reports KHOU.

"They'll basically feed on all the algae, the crabs and shrimps and other creatures that live in the sargassum, so that's basically a big raft, a floating ecosystem," Andy Krauss, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, told KHOU.

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Five Things You Can Do With the Seaweed in Galveston

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Monica Fuentes
The tropical view of seaweed.
If you're still bothered by the mounds upon mounds of seaweed that's been washing up on the shores of Galveston, you're not alone. We're not fans of the stuff, the sight of it, the smell of it or the feel of it.

However, we figured there had to be some options for dealing with it. Here are a few:

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Heavy Rains Could Mean More West Nile Trouble

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Shino
What good are mosquitoes?
With the unusual amount of wet weather we're having (with more expected this weekend), the threat of mosquitoes is bearing down on us. Last year, there were 183 statewide reports of West Nile virus in people. Harris County had a total of nine of those cases. Here in Houston, at least four people have died in the past two years of the virus.

But there's been no word of the virus popping up locally. "So far we have no mosquitoes or birds that have been found with the virus," said Martha Marquez of the HCPHES.

The mosquito control department does surveillance for the city of Houston and Harris County.

They have 264 traps that they put out. Mosquito control picks up those samples, which can include hundreds of mosquitoes, and separates out the species that carry West Nile. If one is found with the virus, the department sprays the area where it was found, Marquez said.


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Luckily, You Shouldn't Have to Worry About That Sargassum on Galveston Island

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Karen Henderson
Sargassum on the beach in Galveston recently.
Keeping seaweed in check on Galveston Island has been no easy task. Prepping for the holiday weekend has meant bulldozing tons of the stuff away from the fun sandy part. And things are looking good for the weekend ahead.

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Sargassum (pronounced like "orgasm") seaweed bombarded the island more than usual this year, due to the cold weather we had in the early spring.

"It's still several days away from being complete," Robert Webster of Texas A&M at Galveston said. He's noticed more of the smelly veggie stuff some 80 miles from here, and said that folks tasked with cleaning it up should expect large seaweed landings in the coming months. He called the mass that's already hit the island "pretty unusual," but it's slowing down.

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This Can't Be True About Our Drinking Water, But It Is

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Doug Waldron
Yes, we'll have to start a water club to avoid the toilet liquid.
So, according to an article in the Texas Tribune, we're drinking Dallas's toilet water. Maybe not literally, but no doubt the folks up north are grinning from ear to ear on that one.

The story comes in a piece about Wichita Falls dealing with drought and a move to turn treated sewer water into tap water. Water reuse studies in our drought-plagued state have been in constant motion for years.

Nearly ten years ago, the state water board did a survey called "Ship Channel Wastewater Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Study." How about some oil in your water?

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