Fish in Texas' Upper Trinity River Tainted with PCBs

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:18 PM PDT
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DALLAS, Texas, August 20, 2008 (ENS) - Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, are elevated in fish tissue in four segments of the upper Trinity River located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Texas health officials.

Used in electrical equipment, PCBs have been banned in the United States since the late 1970s because they cause liver disorders and developmental delays in infants.

As a result, the Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a fish possession ban and a fish consumption advisory for parts of the Upper Trinity River, the Lower West Fork Trinity River, the Clear Fork Trinity River Below Benbrook Lake, and the West Fork Trinity River Below Lake Worth.

Their combined watersheds cover 1,540 square miles, including the densely populated Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

To varying degrees, all the four segments are affected by municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, and by stormwater runoff from agricultural, industrial, and urban areas.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has scheduled a meeting to update stakeholders on development of a plan to address the PCBs found in the upper Trinity River.

Called a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, the plan is designed to restore water quality and reduce PCBs in fish tissue so that it is safe to eat fish caught in the four river segments.

A TMDL is like a budget for pollutants. It estimates the amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still support its designated uses. The load is then allocated among the sources of pollution within the watershed, and measures to reduce pollutant loads are developed as necessary.

A TMDL is part of the state's Water Quality Management Plan after it is adopted by the commission and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The commission's meeting will be held on August 26, 2008 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Tom Vandergriff Conference Center in Arlington, Texas.

The meeting will include a discussion of the TMDL process, history of PCB impairment in the area, sampling results and other project information.

The public is invited. To see the project overview, meeting information, previous meeting summaries, and project documents, click here.

{Photo: The upper Trinity River north of Dallas-Fort Worth by Kinez}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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