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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

Port Arthur Environmental Profile
Port Arthur, Texas Westside Community


Your Water: Key Findings

  • The Port Arthur municipal water system complies with drinking water standards.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) limits the amount of contaminants allowed in drinking water, so human health is protected.
  • Some water bodies in the Port Arthur area are not fit for recreational use or fish consumption.
  • Maps illustrating the current status of waterways for swimming, fishing, harvesting oysters, and potential impacts to wildlife are in each of the sections below.

Port Arthur Environmental Profile

Drinking Water

The municipal water in Port Arthur is safe to drink. Drinking water in Port Arthur comes from surface water sources, including the Lower Neches River Canal (LNRC). Water from the LNRC is treated by the Port Arthur Water Purification Plant and is then distributed through the municipal water supply to a residential population of approximately 58,000 people. The Port Arthur Water Purification Plant treats the water from LNRC to make sure that the water sent to people's homes meets EPA requirements and is safe to drink.

Surface Water

Pollution from a point source or a nonpoint source can change the quality of surface water. Point source pollution comes from specific places that can be identified, such as a discharge pipe or runoff ditch from a factory. Nonpoint source pollution comes from many places that are not easily identified. For example, rainwater that runs off from an urban area can pick up various pollutants as it flows across the pavement towards a river, and is considered a nonpoint source of pollution.

Pollutants from either type of source can include chemicals, sediment or bacteria. These pollutants can affect the quality of the water and limit people's use of the water body. Point sources that discharge into a water body are required to have permits that regulate the discharge to make sure the pollution is limited. All industrial facilities in the Port Arthur area must obtain permits if their releases go directly to surface waters.

Groundwater

Historic research shows that 100 years of refinery activity created groundwater contamination. Groundwater sampling data from the two major refineries adjacent to the Westside community show that the shallow groundwater aquifer beneath the refineries is contaminated. The data also showed that the probability of this groundwater contamination happening in the Westside is low because there is a thick layer of clay over the shallow aquifer that acts as a barrier to restrict the movement of petroleum waste into the aquifer and also greatly obstructs contamination from traveling upward from the aquifer to the Westside community. Remediation of contaminated groundwater took place at several locations and very little of the contamination from the surrounding properties has moved into the groundwater in the community.

Frequently Asked Questions About Water

Can I go swimming?

Yes, in most places. However other areas require caution due to bacteria; especially after it rains. Use the Texas Beach Watch for up-to-date advisories for Gulf beaches in Jefferson County: http://texasbeachwatch.com/.


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Can I eat the fish?

Yes, most fish caught from most water bodies around Port Arthur can be eaten. There is a fish advisory for eating fish from the Gulf of Mexico due to mercury and an advisory for eating Gafftopsail catfish from Sabine Lake and its contiguous waters in Texas due to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In the Gulf, this is a concern primarily with the largest fish at the top of the food chain such as the King Mackerel.


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Can I harvest and eat oysters?

No, harvesting shellfish is prohibited from the areas indicated. Reasons vary and conditions change subject to rainfall, extreme weather events, etc. Visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website for more information: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/survey.shtm#Bans.


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Is the water good for aquatic life?

The water bodies indicated in yellow are considered to have some ecological risk. Low dissolved oxygen (O2) makes supporting life for fish and sediment dwellers more difficult. Chlorophyll-a indicates that nutrients may contribute to unhealthy algae growth and similar conditions.


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Water FAQs

Water Body
(Segment ID)
Can I go swimming? Can I eat the fish? Can I harvest & eat oysters? Is it good for aquatic life?
Sabine River Tidal (0501) Concern - Enterococcus Caution - PCBs No Yes
Neches River Tidal (0601) Concern - Enterococcus Caution - PCBs No Yes
Taylor Bayou (0701) Yes Yes N/A Concern - Low O2 and C-a
Shallow Prong Lake (0701D) Yes Yes N/A Concern - O2 and arsenic
Intercoastal Waterway (0702) Concern - Enterococcus Caution - PCBs N/A Concern - C-a
Alligator Bayou, Main Canals A,B, C, & D (0702A) Yes Yes N/A Concern - Toxic substance in sediment and C-a
Sabine-Neches Canal Tidal Yes Caution - PCBs No Yes
Hillebrandt Bayou (0704) Caution - E. Coli Yes N/A Concern - Low O2, ammonia, and C-a
Sabine Pass (2411) Yes Caution - PCBs No Yes
Sabine Lake (2412) Yes Caution - PCBs No Yes
Gulf of Mexico (2501) Yes Caution - Mercury N/A Yes
Admas Bayou Tidal (0508) Caution - E. Coli Caution - PCBs No Concern - Low O2, pH
Cow Bayou Tidal (0511) Caution - E. Coli Caution - PCBs No Concern - Low O2, pH
Coon Bayou (0511B) Caution - E. Coli Caution - PCBs No Concern - Low O2
Cole Creek (0511C) Caution - E. Coli Caution - PCBs No Concern - Low O2
Star Lake Canal (0601A) Yes Caution - PCBs No Concern - Low O2

C-a: Chlorophyll-a NA: Not applicable O2: Dissolved oxygen

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