Baseline Fish Collections - Lower Sabine River Priority Instream Flow Study
Priority instream flow studies under the Texas Instream Flow Program (TIFP) were selected based on potential or planned water development projects, water rights permitting issues, and other factors. A study on the lower Sabine River was prioritized1 based on the potential for water transfers within the Sabine Basin, proposed inter-basin water transfer projects, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower relicensing of the Toledo Bend Dam. The Lower Sabine River Priority Instream Flow Study was initiated in September 2004 with the Reconnaissance and Information Evaluation2 phase – the first step of a study under the TIFP. The purpose of the Reconnaissance and Information Evaluation phase, according to the TIFP Technical Overview, is to compile, review, and geo-reference available studies and data, identify historic and current conditions, identify significant issues and concerns, and conduct preliminary field surveys and analysis. During reconnaissance, the Sabine River Authority of Texas (SRA-TX) compiled a bibliography of information related to the Sabine River from the Toledo Bend Dam to the mouth of the Sabine River at the north end of Sabine Lake. Biological data compiled during reconnaissance included benthic macro-invertebrate and fish data sets from rapid bio-assessments of many of the main tributary streams of the Sabine River in Texas through a basin-wide effort that began in 1993 to characterize the biological community of the priority subwatersheds of the Sabine River Basin. Biological data has also been collected from the main stem of the river for specific studies but not as a basin-wide effort. Most main stem biological data is from a benthic macro-invertebrate monitoring contract with a local industry from 1989-1992 and from some Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) fish collection work near Anacoco Bayou in 2003. An analysis of the bibliography compiled during reconnaissance revealed a lack of recent biological data for the main stem of the lower Sabine River. In order to have a more complete biological set, a study under Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Contract No. 0604830567 between the TWDB and the SRA-TX was funded by a TWDB Research and Planning Fund Research Grant. Collections and habitat assessments were made at eight sites beginning May 2006 through September 2006 by staff from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, TCEQ, TWDB, and SRATX. The magnitude of the effect of Hurricane Rita and the drought of early spring 2006 on the diversity and population of species collected has not yet been assessed. Additional sampling is proposed to mitigate any seasonal or equipment bias as well as to further assess the effects of the hurricane and the drought.