So, the Texas Consortium for Environmental Quandries decided that upping the state’s allowable poop ratio in our “first-tier” Texas rivers and lakes — those especially smiled-upon water bodies close enough to influential voters to be deemed worthy of “primary recreation,” ie. bellyflops — wasn’t such a hot idea. The three Commissioners ruled at their Wednesday meeting that 126 colonies of E coli bacteria per 100 milliliters of water in such areas, such as the EPA recommends for healthy swimming, was probably a good upper limit.
The agency had been considering raising the limit to 206 colonies (a good upper-limit for authentic Texans, we're told) to make the work of regulation a touch easier. And yet, the trio went ahead with a plan to raise bacterial limits on less-frequently-visited streams — those especially relied upon creeks and streams close enough to influential agricultural donors to be deemed more desirable as feedlot drainage ditches than as important features draining (ultimately) into both important sources of drinking water and treasured swimming holes.
“We are concerned the final rule would increase the amount of bacteria in Texas waterways, causing adverse effects to the public health,” said Amy Swanholm, of the Office of Public Interest Counsel at the TCEQ, earning our devoted chastity for hours upon hours. “Even intermittent or small waterways not connected to historical use are often used by neighborhood families to swim and play in.”
Our thoughts exactly.
The Lower Colorado River Authority encouraged the Commissioners to keep the 126 limit for popular recreational waters such as Highland Lakes, and TCEQ Commissioner Carlos Rubenstein ended up leading the way, taking Commissioner Buddy Garcia and a reluctant Commissioner Bryan Shaw with him. “We’ve all sat up here and said 206 is protective,” Shaw said, adding: “I know there are those that will see 126 as overly burdensome.”
But doing right ain't always easy. As soon as the 126 was back in the water, the three approved the creation of various recreation limits, a sort of bacterial sliding scale based on the understood uses of the individual water bodies. For example, the Secondary Contact Recreation II classification would allow E coli limits at 1,030 colonies. Surely, each bend and each bridge will be plainly marked so you and your kids will know if its safe to wade on down.
Sometimes shit flows uphill, however. In this case, new water-quality standards for the state must still be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the new fecal formulas can be officially, um, expressed.
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