Our Work

Galveston Bay Report Card

HARC and the Galveston Bay Foundation are pleased to provide citizens with the third 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card, released August 9. The Report Card features critical information on the health of Galveston Bay, one of the most important and productive bays in the country.

Through a grant from Houston Endowment, the 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card provides the public with citizen-driven, science-based measures to assess the health of the bay. The Report Card website discusses topics such as the status of key habitats, fish and wildlife populations, trends in water quality of local bayous and the bay, and impacts of coastal change and sea level rise. In 2017, Galveston Bay scored a grade of C for the third year. That means that the bay and its rivers and bayous are faring well, in spite of significant challenges. Galveston Bay is thriving in many respects.

Water Quality continued to earn an A this year, which is great news for the Bay and the Rivers and Bayous that flow into it. We are also continuing to see improvements in the Human Health Risk indicator of bacteria concentrations in area bayous - an issue on which numerous regional partners have been working. Additionally, most fish and bird populations continue to hold steady in the Bay area and the brown pelican continues to be a shining example of a species that has come back from the brink of extinction.

The most significant challenges to the Bay are declines in acreage of natural habitats such as freshwater wetlands and oyster reefs (Habitat around the bay earned the grade of a “D”). Wetlands provide important benefits by absorbing and slowing the release of flood waters. Oysters of course support an important commercial fishery by providing us with seafood and oyster reefs provide important habitat for other fish and wildlife. A habitat success is reflected by increased stands of seagrass. Two decades ago, seagrass beds could only be seen in Christmas Bay. Now they are making a comeback in West Bay due to restoration efforts and improved water quality conditions.

Invasive Species continues to be a key issue in the Galveston Bay watershed. Invasive species are species of plants and animals that are introduced to the Galveston Bay watershed from other parts of the world by human activity. They typically have negative environmental, economic and social impacts. Galveston Bay itself scored a B for invasive species, as there have been no reports of established invasive species in the Bay, unlike in other urban bay systems around the country. However, the Rivers and Bayous flowing into Galveston Bay, including their surrounding watersheds, received a D because there are more than 100 species of invasive plants and animals established in the Galveston Bay watershed. The best way to control invasive species is to keep them out of our yards and waterways: If you don’t know it, don’t grow it! Waterway trash and litter continue to represent an issue that requires additional data. We know trash in our bayous and bay is a $21 million per year problem, but we lack the information about types of trash, sources and how trash moves through our waterways. We need this information to determine litter control solutions. The good news is, a network of public and nonprofit is now actively working on this issue.

The Report Card features new tools – the Find Your Watershed Tool is a great way to find out what watershed you live in, and how your watershed made the grade. Look up the grades for where you live, where you work, where you go to school, and where you like to play around Galveston Bay. You can now search for What You Can Do tips by category to learn how your actions can make a difference to Galveston Bay.

The goal of the 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card is to promote the conservation of Galveston Bay’s natural resources and to increase public participation in the creation of and support for management strategies that protect the bay. The Galveston Bay Report Card is now available in both English and Spanish to reach even more citizens of the Galveston Bay Watershed. We continue to reach out to stakeholders through presentations, web and social media to increase awareness and strive for a resilient and sustainable Galveston Bay ecosystem.

To learn more about Galveston Bay Report Card, please visit

Project Announcements

Press Releases

Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) announced today that Houston Endowment has approved a $455,000 grant that will enable them to provide the Galveston Bay Report Card for another two years.

Researcher Announcement

Join stakeholders from around the region and provide public comment on The Galveston Bay Plan on Monday, March 5, 2018.

Publications, Lectures & Presentations

On January 25, 2018, HARC President Lisa Gonzalez delivered a presentation on water-related resilience strategies and the Galveston Bay Report Card at the Gulf Coast Water Efficiency Network meeting, as organized by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

Project Announcements

The City of Houston recognized the Galveston Bay Report Card program for its positive impact on the environment as part of its Keep Houston Beautiful initiative. A Certificate of Recognition was bestowed at the 33rd Annual Mayor's Proud Partners Luncheon held November 13, 2017.


Primary Researcher