WasteWatch 2024: Texas

The state of Texas, the second largest state in the country, borders four other states. From prairies and lush forests in the east, and arid deserts in the west, Texas is home to diverse landscapes. In recent years, Texas has established water quality standards for rivers, lakes, and estuaries as well as implemented pollution control projects to protect and restore natural waterways. In spite of these efforts, Texas faces various environmental challenges including water scarcity, PFAS contamination, groundwater contamination, air pollution, and the dumping of hazardous waste.

Week 5 our campaign trail lands in Texas. This week Moore Halfon hosts Danny Bogar, MBA, 374Water’s Business Development leader, as they discuss AFFF, PFAS contamination, regulations, and potential solutions moving forward.

Here is what you need to know: 
Life expectancy – 76.5,  30th in the nation 
Population – 29.53 million
Land area – 261,193.9 sq miles, Water area – 7,330.9 sq miles
Texas has over 150 lakes, 15 rivers, and 3,700 streams

Main Environmental Challenges:
PFAS contamination: PFAS is widely used in fracking of oil and gas wells, with thousands of pounds pumped in the state over the last decade. 
Researchers found that levels of toxic dissolved solids in produced water are more than 200 times the EPA’s limit for drinking water. Texas is the nation’s biggest emitter of toxic substances into streams and is home to the most contaminated coal ash site in the US. The EPA tallied 16,7 million pounds of toxic substances released into Texas water in 2020. 28% of the state’s rivers that were assessed are not safe for basic uses like swimming and fishing.

Organizations advocating for the environment and water:
Texas Commission on Environmental QualityTexas Water Resources InstituteTexas Water Conservation Association
Environment TexasTexas Campaign for the Environment

Environmental journalists to follow:
Katie WatkinsAlejandra MartinezMartha PskowskiKen Kramer

Environmental News (See the articles in the comments)
– Over the last decade over 40,000 pounds of PFAS have been injected into
more than 1,000 gas wells across the state (The Texas Tribune, March. 2023)
– Dallas and Fort Worth water have tested positive for PFAS levels above the
proposed regulation threshold. (NBCDFW, Sept. 2023)
– Nearly 150 million gallons of highly toxic, saline wastewater has been spilled in
Texas over the last decade. (The Texas Tribune, Oct. 2023)

Next steps:
Texas’ next steps should include enforcing regulations addressing PFAS injected into oil and gas wells making its way into the state’s groundwater. Being ranked the number 1 state for toxic dumping in waterways, Texas should improve its toxic waste management standards to prevent further contamination. In addition to policies and regulations, Texas should adopt available solutions that remove pollutants like PFAS and prevent further toxic waste contamination.