Texas Matters: In the last legislative session Gov. Perry threatened to and then vetoed the budget of the state's public integrity unit, a state agency that scrutinizes governmental affairs, when the Travis County district attorney, who oversees the unit, did not step down from her post. A special prosecutor is now looking into the case. Also on this show: The governor's race and pre-K, new addition to Texas public school curriculum, cleanup of oil spill on Texas coast, and endangered species vs. oil prospecting.
Padre Island National Seashore has reopened its beaches after cleanup of the oil spill that made its way from Galveston to the southern coastline.
But farther up the coast, government agencies and volunteers are still struggling to clean up the oil that settled in at Matagorda Island, while protecting its wildlife.
It’s been more than two weeks since a barge in the Houston Ship Channel spilled 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay. It took a while for the oil to drift southward to the pristine beaches that draw more than 300 bird species each spring.
Commissioners with the Texas Commissioner on Environmental Quality spent nearly six hours hearing testimony from those that would be affected by a request from the Lower Colorado River Authority to stop the flow of water coming from the Highland Lakes.
A crowd of about 250 farmers, water planners and state and local officials shared their thoughts with TCEQ about a request from the LCRA to stop the flow of water from the Highland Lakes unless the lakes had a combined storage of 1.1 million acre feet -- more than half full.
Matagorda is just another small Texas town, but its bay is one of the key areas in the state for oyster harvesting and processing. It’s also where the mouth of the Colorado River feeds into the Gulf of Mexico, which creates a unique habitat for animals that survive within a careful balance of fresh and salt water.
The area has been hit hard in recent years by drought, and the lack of rainfall has also taken its toll on the aquatic life, whose survival depends on the fresh water to lower the salinity levels of the bay, which is where shrimp hatch and oysters reproduce.
The Lower Colorado River Authority has rescinded its request to block the flow of water headed downstream into Matagorda Bay from the Highland Lakes.
In the early part of October, the LCRA issued an emergency request from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but this Tuesday they said recent rains that led to flooding in sections of Central Texas brought the lake levels up to a suitable level.
Texas Matters: A look at major issues from all over the state this week -- Tom DeLay is acquitted of money laundering, the American Bar Association reviews the states system of capital punishment, alleged scandal with the dunes sagebrush lizard and a water tug-of-war between the Highland Lakes and Matagorda Bay.
The Lower Colorado River Authority’s board voted 9-6 to stop the flow of water going into the Matagorda Bay’s estuaries.
The board will ask the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to cease the flow of the 5,800 acre feet of water projected for the area.
"The idea there is that there would be a small area at the delta where the Colorado River flows into Matagorda Bay that would be a refuge area where fish and shellfish can survive a drought," said Jennifer Walker with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.