Relating Variation in Freshwater Inflow and Water Quality to Biological Communities in the Colorado River Delta

This project aims to better understand the influence of freshwater inflow and water quality variability on biological communities in the Colorado River Delta along the Texas coast at two sites deemed suitable for freshwater-inflow-related habitat restoration projects, and two control sites located further out in the Delta.

Through intensive field sampling over two years and planning meetings with potential pilot project sponsors, our project’s overall goal is to provide essential baseline data needed to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of potential habitat restoration efforts that maximize the distribution of available freshwater inflow to support key ecosystem functions in the Matagorda Bay system.

Three primary tasks and corresponding specific objectives comprise the proposed effort:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive assessment juvenile finfish and shellfish distribution and community structure within the Colorado River Delta study area.
  2. Process monthly water quality and nutrient samples collected over two full years at the two potential habitat restoration sites and the two control sites.
  3. Engage likely sponsors to determine feasibility and logistical considerations of a pilot project to test whether controlled additions of freshwater can be detected and offer ecological benefits at potential habitat restoration sites.