John Jacob, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Texas Coastal Watershed ProgramHarris County
1335 Regents Park Dr., Suite 260
Houston, Texas, 77058
Organization: Texas Coastal Watershed Program
Dr. John Jacob serves as team leader for the Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP), a cooperative educational and outreach effort of Texas Sea Grant and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service that is affiliated with the national Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials organization, or NEMO. TCWP provides information to local governments and citizens about the impacts of land use on watershed health and water quality on the Texas coast.
Jacob takes a holistic approach to educating citizens and local officials, noting that the watershed is affected by a wide range of activities from landscaping and other things people do around their homes to large urban planning and habitat protection activities.
A soil scientist and certified wetland scientist, he also works on a number of projects related to wetlands. At Sheldon Lake State Park, for example, he has been working on a project to restore prairie potholes for more than 12 years. He recently finished a major study on wetland mitigation and also has studied wetland loss, mitigation outcomes, and how wetlands affect water quality. Coastal wetlands, he notes, perform valuable ecological functions including erosion control, water filtration, storm protection and wildlife habitat. Wetlands also serve as important nurseries for fish, crab and other shellfish, many of them commercially important.
Jacob also supports sustainable landscaping, primarily through a program called WaterSmart Landscapes, a website resource funded by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program. His other areas of emphasis include sustainable urban stormwater systems, stormwater wetlands, watershed protection plans, smart growth issues and Community Health and Resources Management mapping, or CHARM. Citizens can use this tool to see real-time effects of different development scenarios on runoff contamination, storm surge and other factors. He engages with the public on these issues one-on-one and through workshops and seminars, and publishes a variety of informational publications. Jacob also engages with other researchers and conducts research on his own.
“We’re doing all this because we depend on the land and clean water,” he says. “Without those, we are up a creek with no clean water in it. I want my grandkids to have a bay where shrimp and shellfish thrive. I want them to see wetlands, partly for their beauty and partly for their role in keeping bays healthy.”
Jacob holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, all in soils and natural resources. He is registered as a Professional Geoscientist with the State of Texas and is a Professional Wetland Scientist. He received the 2014 Southwestern Region Excellence in Extension Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities for his work to address urgent and emerging urban development issues.