Physical Evaluation of Proposed Flooding of Bahia Grande, Cameron County, Texas

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1991

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This report was prepared at the request of the Texas General Land Office in response to certain questions raised concerning the proposed opening of a cut between the Brownsville Ship Channel and Bahia Grande on the Rio Grande delta, Cameron County, Texas (fig. 1). Local interests have suggested that flooding Bahia Grande, according to provisions in State Senate Bill 28, would (1) return the environment to a saltwater wetland similar to its condition before a series of human alterations blocked the flow of saltwater into Bahia Grande, (2) increase biological productivity of the area, which in turn would increase commercial fisheries and improve the local economy, and (3) reduce the dust that blows onto nearby communities such as Laguna Vista. Despite these compelling reasons for flooding Bahia Grande, questions have been raised regarding: (1) the areal extent of inundation, (2) the effects of inundation on storm flooding of adjacent areas, and (3) the requirements needed to maintain a viable wetland habitat. The following report was organized to address these questions. In addition, the report briefly describes the geological origin of Bahia Grande, summarizes the important historical events that altered the area, examines the characteristics of adjacent flooded areas (San Martin Lake), and discusses anticipated effects of the proposed flooding of Bahia Grande.

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