Jacob said with all the new development and potential loss of wetlands coming to the lower Galveston Bay watershed in the next few decades, there’s a threat of “losing the defenses we need.”

“The quantitative demonstration of a significant hydrological connection between headwater prairie pothole wetlands and Galveston Bay does not mean that development and fill of these wetlands will not take place,” he said. “It does mean, however, that the loss of any of these headwater wetlands should be mitigated, just as is done now for development of wetlands adjacent to Galveston Bay and other waters.

“The mitigation process can be used to protect and restore critical headwater wetlands, which have already largely been identified," says Jacob. “Prairie pothole wetlands are precisely the wetlands most impacted by development in the greater Houston area. That none of this loss is mitigated puts the health of our waters at grave risk. We now have enough information to know that this loss must be mitigated without delay.”

Jacob also suggests that perhaps not all the loss can be mitigated. Some prairie pothole complexes are so large and unique that their loss cannot really be mitigated.

“You can lose one kidney, but not both,” he said