Will the proposed Channel Improvement Project alter salinity and temperature gradients in Corpus Christi Bay?

The average salinity in Corpus Christi Bay is 30 parts per thousand (ppt).  However, the salinity level is highly variable, ranging from 15 to 40 ppt, due to erratic rainfall patterns and variable freshwater inflows. 

Salinity over Time in the La Quinta Channel in Corpus Christi Bay

The results of three-dimensional modeling of the planned -54’ Ship Channel (CIP 1) and the proposed incremental deepening to -75’ (from the Gulf of Mexico to Harbor Island) indicated that neither project will result in a significant increase in salinity in Corpus Christi Bay above current conditions.   The modeling results show an average increase in salinity of less than 0.4 ppt, with a maximum increase of 0.52 ppt or less.  This is far less than the 1-2 ppt increase associated with other recent maritime projects in other locations around the country, including the Matagorda Ship Channel, Houston Ship Channel, Miami Harbor, Delaware River, Sacramento River, Saint Johns River, Savannah Harbor, and Charleston River.

The Port has also contracted the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at TAMU-CC to conduct additional three-dimensional modeling of the potential effects of all improvements to the Ship channel, including the current Channel Improvement Project and the future proposed Channel Deepening Project, on storm surge, tide, and salinity; once available, the results of this work will be posted on this website.

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