Houston toad disrupts water tower project in Kosse

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 20:23:24-05

One toad has put a multimillion-dollar construction project on hold in Kosse.

"They've really been in serious decline. There hasn't been a Houston toad in the Houston area since the 1970s," said Brian Henley, animal care manager of amphibians and reptiles at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco.

Henley said Houston toads are a critically endangered species and that there's only a few hundred of them left in the wild.

He's surprised to hear one may be causing a commotion in Kosse since these toads can only be found in a few areas throughout the state.

"The only public lands that you can see them on are actually in Bastrop, at Bastrop State Park," Henley said.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Houston toad requires a specific environment to survive. It needs loose, deep sands supporting pine and oak trees. 

The area chosen for Kosse's new water tower checks all those boxes.

"To my knowledge, the toad does not live there," said Kosse Mayor Jarred Eno. "However, the habitat is conducive to the area the toad likes to live in."

Eno said the city's 2.4 million dollar water tower project has been put on hold by the Environmental Protection Agency due to the possibility of this Houston hitchhiker. 

"The study they wanted to perform, it's called a Presence or Absence Study and it's a three-year-long study to determine whether or not the toad lives there," Eno said.

Eno said this water tower project has been in the works for five years since the city desperately needs to update its current system. The one it's using now was built in the early 1900s.

"I was surprised, especially given the scope of our project at that site was, like I said, about 100 foot by a hundred foot," Eno said.

In order to avoid pushing the project back even further, Eno said the city will go another route by installing a different system at a location that's already been approved by the EPA. 

"We've decided to put in ground storage tanks and the pressure tanks at one of the well sites," Eno said. "That will pressurize our system and eliminate the need for a water tower."

Eno said this will give the people of Kosse what they need while giving the toad, that may or may not be there, a safe place to call home.

"It didn't seem like it was going to make a significant impact, but we sure didn't want to hurt the toads."

"These toads make an impact on our ecosystem," said Henley. "It's not like we can just catch them all and then move them to another area and they would survive.

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