By Joan Frances
Fort Bend County is a wonderful place to live. With abundant growth and development the community can be proud of the progress the cities are making. They are constantly looking to improve and rebuild to enhance the scenic beauty of the area. Taxpayers have supported the push for improvement so everyone may reap the benefits. Oyster Creek has come a long way by revitalization and repair.
Exploring the history of this amazing natural water supply is fascinating. Winding approximately 54 miles of watershed, named for all the oyster shells at the bottom, upper Oyster Creek has played a huge role in the development of the area. Boat transportation for the early settlers as early as 1821 contributed to a multi-use waterway. Cotton and sugar plantations were established and the creek was used to ship goods downstream to Galveston and New Orleans. Real estate and industrial development began along the creek. By 1880, the railroads were built to keep up with the growing population.
Tragically, the upper Oyster Creek has been polluted by waste and bacteria growth.
The watershed encompasses four towns; Fulshear, Sugar Land, Stafford, and Missouri City. The city of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County Water Control and Improvement District allow the largest discharge of wastewater facilities. Quail Valley and Missouri City also allow wastewater discharges. All permitted facilities are required to disinfect their treated effluent prior to discharge.
Missouri City uses ultraviolet light disinfection rather than chlorination/dechlorination. Disinfection is designed to reduce or eliminate bacteria from the water. It is for this reason that there are posted bans on swimming in the waterway. The city of Sugar Land has a city ordinance, Section 3-177 titled: City-owned waterways; swimming, boating, etc., prohibited; which states: It is unlawful for any person to engage in swimming, diving, wading or boating activity of any type in any city-owned waterway, including, but not limited to, any lake or pond. The public may know the dangers of body contact with the water that have been impaired by bacteria and pollution, but very often out of pure desire to be in the water, ignore the warnings.
Oyster Creek, after years of flooding and drought, has experienced an over abundance of plants, dead debris and trash in need of attention. Last fall, volunteers collected trash from the creek to fill 70 large trash bags. The drought exposed the Creek bottom and with no water, cleaning was a necessity and easy to do. Recently, the city of Sugar Land participated in the clean up of Oyster Creek by clearing out the overgrown plant area to reveal water, all in an effort to make this gift from nature attractive and useful again to residents.
The uses for Oyster Creek are many, bicycling, fishing, rowing, kayaking, sitting, jogging/running, walking, bird watching, all make this a desirable location for out door enthusiasts of all ages. With spring right around the corner, the community can look forward to quality time outdoors. Whatever mistakes were made in the past, hopefully in the future, man may be one with nature.