Rockport Beach Park History
By Jack Wright

At a June 2, 2022 public forum, the Aransas County Navigation District presented a dog and pony show on the health of Little Bay. Attendees were encouraged to contact their elected officials on many levels and were provided a contact list. The following is a letter I sent on Monday, June 6, to each of the elected officials on the contact list.

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If it has not already begun, your office is likely to start receiving phone calls and letters from Rockport residents who will be requesting, perhaps even demanding, that you change the law affecting storm water drainage. As written, smaller communities like Rockport are not required to implement BMP (Best Management Practices) in getting storm water off the public streets to its natural outfall. In this case, the bays surrounding the Aransas County peninsula.

June 2, the Aransas County Navigation District held a public forum “Save Little Bay” and encouraged the roughly 150 attendees to lean on you to change the law requiring all communities to implement BMP’s in its storm water management known as MS4. The District engaged a high-powered Austin Public Relations firm using taxpayer money. They prepared a highly propagandized forum complete with seriously misleading and false information presented at that forum. The condition of Little Bay, real or imagined, is a highly charged emotional issue and deserves careful examination. In addition, saving Little Bay is a noble and very worthwhile endeavor. However, if one steps back and looks at the big picture, a larger scenario unfolds.

Little Bay began its decline 64 years ago with the creation of Rockport Beach Park by the District. Prior to 1958, water from Aransas Bay flowed across the submerged sand bar that was later to become the park and beach. Material from Aransas Bay was dredged and pumped on top of the sand bar to build the beach we now know. More than a mile and a quarter of natural wind-driven and tide-driven water flow was cut down to a channel less than 100 feet wide on the southeast end of Little Bay.

In 1961, ground was broken on the island development of Key Allegro, a high-end subdivision created by Carl Kreuger and investors. More dredging from Aransas Bay built up the bulkheaded lots. The canal at the north end of Little Bay, the only entrance and exit to and from Key Allegro is approximately 60 feet across. The water exchange was cut down to two canals, one each on the north and south end of Little Bay/Key Allegro. As the city developed further, drainage pipes were placed in a total of 11 locations to take the storm water from a portion of old and new Rockport and Key Allegro into Little Bay, the most direct route. Part of the water claimed to be causing the death of Little Bay come from the streets of Key Allegro, a fact the District is loath to admit. But is Little Bay really dying?

The Navigation District claims that the storm waters entering Little Bay have caused the decline of the seagrass, which is causing the death of Little Bay. But that flies in the face of the facts. People still swim, catch fish, and otherwise enjoy the park without any undue effects. Rockport Beach Park is the only Blue Wave beach park in the state of Texas. Water is tested twice weekly in Little Bay and on the Aransas Bay side of the beach park; the locations change continuously. The results are posted on-line at the EPA Beacon Water Quality website. No water quality violations, warnings, or citations about Little Bay or the Beach Park have been reported on that website.

The District has reviewed multiple proposed solutions from environmentalists and engineers, all at taxpayer expense, and has rejected them all except the most expensive one, diversion – taking the 11 outfall pipes and extending or rerouting them out into the main body of Aransas Bay. The cost is estimated as high as $20 million dollars. There are simpler and less costly yet effective fixes that have been rejected by the district. Their own local environmental engineer, Charles Bellaire recommended rerouting the outfall pipes into the southwest corner of Aransas Bay years ago and they rejected his recommendation as well. The question is why?

The District seeks to implement a permitting process that would allow them to approve every new subdivision, every new home, every new business, and every public venue that would add a drop of water to the waters they control. And not just to Little Bay, but also to every body of water that surrounds the Aransas County peninsula. If successful, the District would create a stranglehold on the community. Commissioner Moore spoke of the desired permitting process in his town hall meeting April 21. They have nearly $10 million in cash and investments against average yearly expenditures of $3.5 million. That is a larger fund balance than all other governmental entities combined in Aransas County in terms of fund balance to annual expenditures. They have the funds to do any of the less expensive fixes, but again that is not what they want.

The Water Code does not grant the District any jurisdiction over drainage or water quality. The District’s efforts are nothing more than an attempted jurisdictional power grab that does not exist in either the Texas Constitution or the Water Code.

We humbly ask that you let the present law stand and reject their power grab.