Storm Surge Suppression Study Phase 3 Report released
The Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District (GCCPRD) has released an extensive 37-page technical report that “finds a compelling need for a storm surge protection system on the upper Texas coast.” The GCCPRD Board of Directors reviewed and unanimously approved the Storm Surge Protection Study Phase 3 Report – Recommended Actions on June 22, 2016. The report can be found online at the GCCPRD website, www.gccprd.com.
The report identifies the preferred regional alternatives across the North Region - Orange and Jefferson counties, Central Region - Galveston, Chambers and Harris counties, and South Region - Brazoria County and Galveston County (vicinity of San Luis Pass). The Central Region includes Morgan’s Point and the 13 other cities that are members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. The study team, in coordination with considerable input from the public, community leaders and elected officials, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Texas A&M University at Galveston and the SSPEED Center at Rice University, recommended a High Island to San Luis Pass coastal spine including a navigation gate at Clear Lake and a modified Galveston ring levee as the approach that best supports surge protection in the Chambers, Galveston, and Harris counties region of the study area including the industry located along the Houston Ship Channel.
The Storm Surge Suppression Study is funded by the Texas General Land Office through a $3.9 million federal Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant. Dannenbaum Engineering performed the study and has estimated the construction cost of the 55.6-mile coastal spine at $5.8 billion with a very acceptable benefit/cost ratio (BCR) of 3.22. The engineering firm estimates the total cost for implementing the GCCPRD Study Area Plan for the Upper Texas Coast is $11.6 billion with a BCR of 2.03.
Although the final construction cost will undoubtedly increase, consider that the federal government invested $14.5 billion dollars for hurricane protection for New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina protecting a population of 10 percent of that of the upper Texas Coast which has a population of more than six million people and generates over 31 percent of the state’s $1.4 trillion GDP. The Houston/Galveston region encompasses the nation’s largest petrochemical complex which supplies 40 percent of America’s specialty chemical products, 27 percent of the gasoline and 60 percent of its specialty military fuel.
The study is a call to action for local, state, and federally elected officials to become advocates for coastal protection for the upper Texas coast. Local officials will seek additional funding from the state of Texas in the 2017 legislative session that is needed for environmental studies and to advance efforts beyond planning to the actual design and construction of the system. The entire region will remain at risk until the system is fully built.
”We continue to move forward toward everyone’s goal of a comprehensive storm surge protection plan that is cost effective, environmentally friendly, socially just and politically acceptable” stated Michel Bechtel, City of Morgan’s Point Mayor and Coastal Spine advocate.