Members of the community often voice complaints about the water releases every year, especially when they're are asked to restrict their water use. City officials are constantly looking for ways to increase water supply sources and improve the system. Council members discussed the releases today at a workshop.
Scheduled water releases are required by the state, designed to mimic nature and help keep local ecosystems healthy and productive. Healthy bays and estuaries are the foundation of our tourism industry which is a big part of our economy.
This all goes back the 1970's when the reservoir at Choke Canyon was built. In order to get the permits for the dam, the state required the city of Corpus Christi and the Nueces River authority to agree to schedule releases from our reservoir system to maintain the health of the bays.
"Based upon different times of the year i.e. months and targets within that agreed order to make the releases," said Steve Ramos the water resource manager for the City of Corpus Christi.
The amount of water that is released is calculated with a special formula that varies month to month. It takes several factors into consideration, for instance, the inflow of water into the Canyon and Lake, the salinity of the bay and historic flow patterns.
"We really don't have to release water if we don't have any inflow that particular month," said Ramos.
The amount of water to be released was first determined back when Choke Canyon was built but the state has allowed the numbers to be tweaked over the years as more information about the reservoirs was gathered. The last time that happened was back in 2001. Some council members say it might be time to take another look at adjusting the amount of the releases to conserve water for city purposes
"It be worth opening up and looking at it. I understand the system that we are doing now is not producing the results that everyone wants in terms of the positive impacts to the bays and estuaries," said councilmember Joe McComb.
Any changes made to the agreement on the water releases would have to take into consideration the potential impact on the organisms that live in the bays and the State of Texas would have the final say on that.