Why is the Water in Southeast Texas Brown?
Newcommers to the area always comment on the brown water in the rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds in the area. The first impression is that the water is nasty! But this is far from true. Yes, it is brown but is is no more nasty than a glass of tea.
ONE COMPANY owns over 1,000,000 acres of pine forest in this area. They grow trees for area paper mills, lumber mills and plywood mills. There are several similar companies in the area who own "tree farms" or will manage and purchase the timber on your land. Then there are trees in my yard and my neighbors yard and so on... All these trees are constantly loosing leaves and needles.
Then, if you look around, grass, weeds, bushes are growing everywhere and the vegetation just grows like crazy around here. I have seen bags of seed fall off the back of a truck on the freeway and after a rain you'll see the seeds sprout and start to grow right there on the freeway!
There are several dynamics that come into play here.
We have warm weather. We are in a "sub tropical" region. Our winters are just cold enough to prevent is from being called tropical.
We get lots of sunshine. Seattle Washington has about 300 overcast days a year and about 65 days of sunshine (thus the high suicide rate). Southeast Texas has about 65 overcast days with about 300 days of sunshine.
We get lots of rain. I have seen it rain 10 inches in an hour around here. That's why all the streets are built the way they are... rounded surfaces, gutters and large drains. it's also why there are bayou's and ditches everywhere.
Warm rains wash over the pine straw (needles) and carry with it the tannin. It then filters thru the warm topsoil, composed of broken down needles and leaves, as it runs off into the creeks and bayous.
And there are many waterways in the area. They are lined with trees that shed needles and leaves that land in the warm water.
Warm water has a higher solubility. As it washes over the needles and leaves it leaches the tannin and carries it to the creeks, streams, bayous and lakes.
Warm water also holds more dirt when it moves, but between the rains when the water is still, it looks just like tea. It is tea. Pine straw and oak leaf tea.
The water is not bad. At first glance it looks bad, but upon closer examination it is no more disgusting than an ordinary glass of tea. In fact, it is really quite beautiful.
Now, if ya wanna see nasty water, go to Sea Rim State Park south of Port Arthur, Tx. The water there looks just like chocolate milk. The incomming waves create a white foam. It almost looks delicious... when you see it, sit in your car for just a moment and see if you don't notice the similarities. Then get out and take a sniff... nasty salty air... it's like Tuna fish and chocolate syrup. Each one in and of themselves are wonderful, but the two together, bah, nasty!
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