A collaborative effort is underway to find manageable solutions to help improve the water quality of Highland Bayou.

The Highland Bayou Project’s working group has been meeting with various city leaders and other interested parties to draft a voluntary plan with steps to improve the watershed, Steven Mikulencak, head of the project, said in an earlier interview with The Daily News.

The project has ties to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, but is funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It’s aimed at creating a Highland Bayou Watershed Protection Plan.

The state’s environmental agency listed Highland Bayou as impaired because of low oxygen levels and bacterias that result from its slow, stagnant water flow. It’s one of several bayous around Galveston Bay listed as impaired. Dickinson Bayou is another example.

Lower levels of oxygen cause sporadic fish kills and high bacteria levels can make it unsafe to swim in, Mikulencak said.

“We’re working with communities around Highland Bayou to come up with steps to improve the watershed,” Mikulencak said. “It’s all voluntary, but we’ll help communities identify funding sources.”

Representatives from La Marque, Hitchcock and Bayou Vista are all involved in the talks, according to Celina Gauthier Lowery, an extension associate with the project.

La Marque Councilman Robert Michetich has attended the meetings. The group discussed different local sources of pollution to the bayou, he said. Those range from littering, to discharge from a surge treatment, to storm and wastewater runoff, he said.

“Sometimes it’s from someone who’s working on a vehicle in their driveway and lets the antifreeze run down the driveway and it ultimately gets into the water,” Michetich said. “That kind of stuff becomes pretty toxic.”

Michetich said he’s also connected the working group to a project manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see what can be done about the Diversionary Canal in Santa Fe, an upstream dam, to clean out its culverts and allow better water flow. The corps of engineers office did not provide comment on the project before press time.

So far, the group has discussed various awareness programs, which Michetich said the city of La Marque could adopt. For example, the city could put mailers with important information in residents’ water bills about avoiding pollutions, he said.

Regardless, cities will be considering different efforts to clean up the bayou because of its ecological and recreational importance to the community, he said.

“It’s a good area to fish, and we don’t want to see that get messed up,” Michetich said.

The stakeholder group will meet again this Wednesday and the project’s director will complete a draft of the watershed plan later this spring.

Staff reporter Chacour Koop contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Marissa Barnett at 409-683-5257 or marissa.barnett@galvnews.com.

(10) comments

Walter Manuel


Timothy Thompson

Ummm . . . where is Highland Bayou? Sorry, I'm an islander, I'm somewhat familiar with the mainland but I don't know where this particular bayou is. A map would be nice.

Rauline Vanda

Timothy Thompson... you could always GOOGLE... Hope this helps. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjh19

Timothy Thompson

I already did, but I stand by my point, not everybody who reads the GDN is familiar with all parts of Galveston County, so it makes sense, at least to me, to indicate the location about which the news story pertains, i.e. Where, one of the 5 W's.

Claudia Burnam

Timothy, so called " journalist" long ago gave up on the 5 w's. If they are included in an article they are in the last paragraph.
E. G. Wiley

Mike Trube

I have questions. Who took water samples? Who conducted the tests? Why wasn't the results published with this article? When was there ever a fish kill regarding Highland Bayou? Date please....and photos. As far as alerting residents of being careful, the city needs to start at home. I know of two incidents of raw sewage flowing into the drainage system. And it was not the fault of any residents.
And I have to wonder, is this a roundabout way to get the canals in Omega Bay dredged? Hmmm?


sheryl tillson

I had the same thoughts about the canals of Omega Bay! Mr. Michetich needs to look in the city and especially in his own district. I can only imagine the amount of litter and debris that goes in to the storm drains in this city alone.

Mike Trube

Sheryl, the two big drainage ditches that run under Main St. need to be dredged really badly. Less and less attention is being paid to the needs of the center of the city. We are being treated like step children.


sheryl tillson

Those drainage ditches begin in the center of La Marque which ultimately drain in to Highland Bayou at the north end of Omega Bay. Mr. Michetich needs to look up stream to the problem. It seems his only agenda is Omega Bay and not the city/district he represent in La Marque.

Mike Trube

Perhaps he needs someone to show him where all the trouble really starts. It's a horrible mess! And from what I was told, the city can't force the county to do anything. I think council as a whole needs to address the commissioners and tell them of the problem. But that would mean someone who really cares. Out of sight, out of mind.


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