Before packing your bags and traveling to the beach to unwind, it’s typical to look for popular beaches with clear water and pristine (or white) sand. Galveston Beach is one of Texas’ most popular public beaches. Galveston Island, which is approximately 60 minutes from Houston, is famous for being one of the most enjoyable (if not the most beautiful) weekend spots in the state.
Long-term visitors and residents will say, however, that Galveston is frequently underappreciated. Recent news articles about the “dangers” in Galveston, on the other hand, have instilled panic in Houston citizens. Galveston is one of Texas’ treasures, and it’s heartbreaking to hear folks worried about their safety when visiting the shore. These recent headlines may have given you pause.
So, why is Galveston Beach dirty? Its murky, brownish water is caused by particles from neighboring bodies of water, as well as its shallow shoreline and prevalence of fine sand. At times, there is an increase in the bacterial count, which alters the natural state of the water, as well as the trash that tourists leave behind.
This article will provide you with a more in-depth explanation of these precise causes. Furthermore, we will assist you in determining if it is safe to swim in Galveston Beach water or whether it is safe to visit and take a dip.
Why Is Galveston Beach Water Dirty?
There are several reasons for making Galveston Beach appear dirty. Let’s look at the list of reasons one by one in the following paragraphs.
Sediments Floating on the Beach Water
Because of its location, Galveston Beach receives the majority of the sediments from the Yazoo, Mississippi, Trinity, and Atchafalaya rivers, which normally drain into the Gulf. These fast-moving, high-volume bodies of water churn out swamp land sediments or sand on a constant basis.
The Texas shoreline becomes entangled in the process. A large amount of these sediments are pushed toward it by the Gulf of Mexico’s currents. This is especially true given that the ocean’s water goes from west to east due to the Earth’s rotation.
Size Of Sand
Galveston Beach also includes a lot of sandbars, which are horizontally raised mounds of thin (almost silt-like) sand that you may walk on to get to deeper water. Because of its small size, it is readily disturbed or unsettled and can float for long periods of time.
It also allows the waves to blend with the beach water, resulting in brownish-colored water. Similarly, because small sand particles take longer to settle down at the beach’s bottom, water will carry them everywhere it goes.
The darker the water on Galveston Beach becomes when the waves or gusts get stronger. It’s also why, when the waves are gentler, the water turns green or blue rather than brown.
The short shoreline of Galveston Beach raises the sediments, making them more apparent. As a result, the water is a bright brown color.
Sand and sediment turnover is significant on beaches with shallow shorelines or water. This is due to a lack of ocean floor flora, which would otherwise contribute to sediment trapping and therefore clearing the beach water.
Count Of Bacteria
Water and sand, like our bodies, contain non-harmful germs such as bacteria. When the number climbs, the water’s state changes.
However, this change in concentration occurs only after considerable or intense rainfall. When rain increases the amount of water, it does not flow only with the usual sediments. Because it travels over various landforms, it can also transport garbage and bacteria. These fields may contain cattle, pet waste, and other contaminants that can taint the soil.
During these periods, it functions as a septic system, which is prevalent in several bodies of water, particularly recreational beaches.
Furthermore, when a certain location experiences sewer system problems, the beach water might get contaminated with bacteria present in human excrement. Nonetheless, the government works to resolve these issues as soon as possible.
If you’re wondering, “How dirty is Galveston Beach both before and a few days post these events?” At the microscopic level, the answer would have to be too filthy. During these seasons, the water is likely to be murkier and discolored.
Garbage Left By Humans
This is probably the most obvious response to the question, “Why is Galveston Beach dirty?” Whether we like it or not, some individuals today leave wrappings for food, beverage containers, and other stuff wherever they go. The worst of all is they do it even if littering is prohibited.
This is especially prevalent during peak season, when the area is more congested than usual. Galveston is, after all, a public beach.
Is It Safe to Swim at Galveston Beach?
When we see murky water, one of the first things that comes to mind is sanitation. Because Galveston Beach has such unique qualities for a variety of reasons, it’s vital to know if it’s safe to go swimming in its water and sunbathe on its sand and gravel, even if you’re using a sand-proof beach towel. As a result, here is specific information regarding how safe it is to swim at Galveston Beach, as well as safety precautions to take:
During Heavy Rainfall Seasons
Swimming is apparently unsafe during the rainy season since the water current is frequently greater or unpredictable. It raises your chances of drowning.
A few weeks following heavy rains will not be the safest time since, as previously stated, the water carries the highest level of bacteria. Similarly, depending on where the water drained off before draining or rushing onto Galveston Beach, it can be contaminated with hazardous microorganisms.
These bacterial species mostly cause gastrointestinal disorders, while some have been linked to flesh-eating diseases.
With that in mind, a rise in the amount of algae floating in the beach water is one of the visual symptoms of a high bacterial concentration. There may also be floating dead fish or wildlife in the region.
Fortunately, Galveston Beach, like most beaches in the United States, is frequently tested for bacterial contamination. Furthermore, when there is a substantial quantity of hazardous bacteria, the beach will be temporarily closed and examined daily (until it clears up).
Visitors’ trash is not just a sight; it can also lead to unsanitary conditions that can endanger humans and animals. Yes, most of it is left on the beach, where you can trip and fall. Even so, garbage can be washed away in the ocean.
Who wants to swim and lounge among wrappers, bottles, and other similar items? As a result, it’s a good idea to verify which parts of the beach are less crowded during peak season. When there are a lot of people on the beach, there is a greater likelihood of litter.
Every ocean has sharks, as they are large water body species, and Galveston Beach is no exception. Nonetheless, they will not harm you as long as you do not injure them. Swimming should also be avoided at dusk and dawn because these are their feeding times. Fish jumping is one indicator they’re nearby, so get out of the water right away to avoid being mistaken for shark bait.
What Causes Fecal Bacteria To Enter Galveston Beach?
Following big rainfall occurrences, bacteria concentrations often rise. This is due to runoff from a number of land sources, such as malfunctioning septic systems, pet waste, and livestock, transporting bacteria into the beach.
Fortunately, anyone may assist in lowering bacteria concentrations in their local drainage by minimizing pollution sources at home and reducing runoff from their land through more efficient lawn watering, the use of rain barrels, or the development of green infrastructure.
Boats with toilets or heads on board may also contribute to bacteria contamination in Galveston Beach, because even “treated” waste contains high levels of fecal bacteria. This is why it is unlawful to dump untreated garbage on the beach or either treated or untreated trash in Clear Lake.
Once these fecal bacteria have reached our rivers, various factors can influence how long they can persist.
Because UV rays in sunshine kill bacteria, they flourish in cloudy or murky water. Furthermore, sand or muck stirred up by waves, wind, or boater action can diminish the clarity of water and directly discharge bacteria from the soil.
Bacteria also grow quicker in water with less dissolved oxygen. When temperatures are high or there is an algae bloom, low oxygen levels can result. Algae or plankton blooms are caused by high nitrogen levels in the water.
When these blooms occur, they absorb a large portion of the oxygen in the water, causing the water to become hazy. The first sign of this is generally a fish kill, in which small fish species die in large numbers. Bacterial growth thrives in these settings!
Rainfall, on the other hand, is the most reliable indicator of elevated bacteria levels. Bacteria levels frequently rise after a storm as a result of dirty discharge from our roads, lawns, and infrastructure failures.
The water at Galveston Beach has the color and opacity that most people associate with “polluted, dirty, contaminated, and unsafe for swimming.” However, this is completely negative and things are quite the opposite because both are mostly caused by sediments or just sand.
Of course, there are times when swimming at Galveston Beach, or any beach, is not safe. Nonetheless, you need not be concerned because the beaches are regularly monitored by the State of Texas and other private agencies. They also issue early warnings and advisories as well as take the necessary precautions to keep the beach safe for all guests as possible.
So, if you’re ready to visit Galveston Beach and there aren’t any safety or closure advisories, bring your swimming gear and a waterproof action camera for a fun and unforgettable vacation!