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Fact Check: Is Corpus Christi required to release reservoir water?

Posted: 8:44 PM, Oct 18, 2017
Updated: 2018-07-30 13:16:27-04

On Wednesday, officials announced that only two floodgates remained open at Wesley Seale Dam, meaning floodwater downstream along the Nueces River would, at last, begin to recede.

The dam forms a reservoir at Lake Corpus Christi, a vital component of our area’s water supply, and for around a week has been releasing water following the lake surpassing 100% capacity. That water led to downstream flooding in residential neighborhoods as it overflowed the banks of the Nueces River.

But even though the lake is now at max capacity and expected to lower, water releases will continue. In fact, they’re a regular occurrence; and officials say the water releases are not optional but a requirement. Still, many residents question how, despite drought conditions and other factors, our reservoirs are required to dump much-needed water from their systems.

So it’s time for a Fact Check.

Fact or Fiction: Is Corpus Christi required to release water from its reservoirs, and why?

The Verdict: Fact, the City is required to release water for environmental and other reasons.

Our Fact Check team looked into the matter and found that water releases are required for various reasons. Gabriel Ramirez, Assistant Director of Water Quality and Treatment with Corpus Christi told us more.

"The City is part of, an agreed order with the TCEQ and we are required to do so much in releases per month," Ramirez explained.

That agreement, which has been in place since the reservoir was created, helps to ensure that this essential South Texas resource is stored, and used safely and responsibly.

Those water releases serve a few important purposes. For example, that life-giving water isn’t just essential for us humans, it’s also essential for the environment we live in.

Water releases from Lake Corpus Christi make their way down the Nueces River towards the Nueces Bay and later into the Corpus Christi Bay and beyond. They help keep salinity in our waterways stable and circulate fresh water into our estuaries so that aquatic life can flourish…which is good news for the local fishing market.

Releases also help protect the integrity of the reservoir, which keeps an essential part of our water grid stable and operating (and on it’s way to our water pipes.)

So, although water releases might seem like a waste of a vital resource, they’re actually the opposite – essential processes that keep us, our water grid and the environment we live in healthy.

But are they the only way? Well, not everyone agrees. Some, including Mayor Joe McComb, suggest there could be other ways to address environmental concerns and maintain the reservoirs without required releases, or with a different agreement. More on that here.

If you have a topic or issue you’d like our Fact Check team to investigate, email us your suggestion to factcheck@kristv.com