The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership last week hosted a world class meeting sponsored by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District, the six county group formed to study the feasibility of a storm surge prevention system similar to the Delta Project created by the Dutch government following the devastating flood of 1953.
Participants in the day long technical workshop and symposium included experts from the Netherlands who are sharing their expertise with the Texas initiative and from the State of Louisiana where massive amounts of federal funds were used to re-build the levees around New Orleans. Engineers, environmentalists and elected officials from throughout the Gulf Coast Region attended the meeting.
A major announcement was made by Colonel Christopher Sallese, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District.
Colonel Sallese reported that the Sabine Pass to Galveston coastal erosion feasibility study, which had been questioned in recent years, has been identified for funding in the FY2012 Federal Budget. In addition, Colonel Sallese reported that the USACE is recommending that the scope of the project be expanded to encompass the six counties on the upper Texas coast; and that the study be expanded to include a storm surge suppression component in addition to ecosystem restoration.
This announcement is very important to the future of a storm surge protection system on the upper Texas Gulf Coast.
Not since the construction of the Galveston Seawall has such an important project been proposed on the Texas Gulf Coast. Although leadership in some Texas coastal communities, such as Texas City and Port Arthur resulted in ring levees that have proven very effective in protecting those areas (albeit at the expense of neighboring communities that do not have levees) elected officials in Galveston and Galveston County rejected a ring levee proposal by the Corps of Engineers in the 1970s because of cost. Hurricane Ike demonstrated how foolish that financial decision was.
The new initiative was launched after world-renowned oceanographer Dr. William Merrell of Texas A&M University at Galveston developed the concept that is now called the “Ike Dike”. First proposed as an extension of the Galveston Seawall to Rollover Pass on the Bolivar Peninsula and to San Luis Pass on Galveston Island, the concept caught the attention of the Corps of Engineers and public officials in Jefferson, Orange, Chambers, Brazoria and Harris counties.
Texas Governor Rick Perry created the six county Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District to study the feasibility of a storm surge protection system for the entire upper Texas Gulf Coast.
A recent article in a local newspaper in one of the six counties complained that “there has been almost no progress” on the Ike Dike project.
This commentary is to call attention to the continuing efforts of the governor, the six county judges, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation which is the general engineering consultant for the GCCPRD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our friends in the Netherlands who know the importance of a storm surge protection system, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and others who are doing more than complaining about the challenges that nature presents to the Texas Gulf Coast.
As Dr. Merrell said when he conceived of the Ike Dike, “We need to point out that we are affected by a major storm every 15 years. So the question isn’t if, it’s when, we are going to get it next.”
To read the GuidryNews.com report on last week’s Technical Workshop and Symposium for the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District, Click Here