AUSTIN — The Texas Department of State Health Services, the agency responsible for issuing fishing bans and advisories on Texas waterways, announced late last week it was reviewing water samples taken by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in connection with pollution from Skull Creek that has reached the Colorado River.
In the May 1 edition of The Citizen, the newspaper reported that a spokesperson for DSHS said the agency didn’t have the money to conduct testing of water, fish, or sediment necessary to determine if a fishing advisory or ban was necessary in the Colorado River.
“Our environmental epidemiology folks are reviewing sampling data taken by TCEQ to determine what recommendations are needed; however, they don’t include any fish samples,” Chris Van Dolen, media spokesperson for DSHS said last Thursday.
Contamination from Skull Creek reached the Colorado River in mid-April. Participants in an April 27-28 cat fishing tournament on the river reached out to The Citizen last Monday asking why no state agency had issued a fish consumption ban or advisory for portions of the river near its confluence with contaminated Skull Creek.
When exactly DSHS became involved in reviewing water data related to Skull Creek is unclear.
A spokesperson for TCEW said late Monday, that “TCEQ began coordinating with DSHS in early April and provided requested data, including sample maps and data.”
That runs contrary to a DSHS statement last week that they had just requested Skull Creek water tests from TCEQ. DSHS notified The Citizen last Thursday it was only then seeking water testing results from TCEQ.