Bolivar after Ike storm surge

Army Corps to Hold Virtual Public Meetings on Coastal Protection Study

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin issued a newsletter today about about the Army Corps’ Coastal Protection Study. The City, he says, has worked with its civic, business, state and federal partners ever since Hurricane Ike in September 2008 on this project. “Hurricane Laura, renewed the sense of urgency with our federal partners,” said Martin. “We need collectively to identify a single path forward and focus all our energy and resources into ramping that project up and moving it forward.”

Texas Ranks as Third Most Vulnerable State to Hurricanes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks Texas as the third most vulnerable state to hurricanes when ranked by property value.

Destruction on Bolivar Peninsula After Hurricane Ike. Looking south toward Gulf. Ike scoured infrastructure right out of the ground. Storm surge reached almost all the way to I-10 and swept buildings off their foundations more than 10 miles inland.
Destruction on Bolivar Peninsula After Hurricane Ike. Looking north toward Bay. Nothing was left standing for miles.

Ike went right up the throat of Galveston Bay. Had the storm come in 30 miles west, the refineries from Texas City to Deer Park, Pasadena and Baytown could have looked like the photos above. That would have been an environmental disaster of the highest order.

Corps Releases Coastal Protection Study, Seeks Public Comment

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) just released the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study Draft Report (Coastal Texas Study) on October 30th. They will accept public comment through December 14th.

The Corps will hold six, virtual, public meetings for comments. Each will require registration to participate. They will hold the first of the virtual public meetings on Monday, November 16, 2020 from 11am to 1pm.

Interested participants who cannot make the meetings, can submit comments by emailing All comments must be postmarked by December 14, 2020. Written comments can be mailed to:

USACE, Galveston District

Attention:  Mr. Jeff Pinsky

Environmental Compliance Branch Regional

Planning and Environmental Center

Post Office Box 1229

Galveston, Texas 77553-1229

“It is my hope,” said Martin, “that all our local representatives will submit letters of support during this comment period to the Army Corps of Engineers. Once they have expressed support for the Coastal Texas Study, local officials should work with their federal counterparts to ensure the study is approved and subsequent projects authorized once they reach Congress. That should be early in 2021.”

Martin Describes Approval Gauntlet

“At the State level, we have an excellent state sponsor for the plan in the General Land Office (GLO).  The GLO serves as the local advocate for coastal communities and the state-level partner with the USACE,” says Martin  “In January, the Texas State Legislature will be continuing its work towards getting a workable plan approved for our protection.”

Martin added that at the Federal level, we now have a comprehensive surge protection plan moving through the USACE approval process. This plan provides an estimated $2 of benefits for every $1 spent. That ratio makes the proposed barrier system competitive as a national priority for Congressional approval and funding, claims Martin.

Specifically, the Legislature will be looking at advancing different funding strategies for our barrier system, including using Resilience Bonds to capture value through avoided losses. These large infrastructure projects take many years to design, develop, and construct.  But we are closer now than ever to having a workable solution for our region, says Martin.  “The prize is at hand, and we mustn’t allow ourselves to get distracted!”

“Our local business and civic leaders must stay focused, vigilant, and engaged in the process to inform themselves of the opportunities we have,” says Martin.  “They must also help educate other Houstonians on the ways we can protect our communities to make the Houston an even more desirable place to live and work.”

Where To Find the Study and Some Key Conclusions

Here’s a link to the executive summary of the proposal. Significantly, the plan is no longer a monolithic dike stretching along the entire coastline. It contains both natural and man-made elements. USACE has abandoned the plan of building a wall along SH87 that stretches from Bolivar Flats to High Island. That was dropped from the plan to minimize both social and environmental impacts. Instead, the Bolivar and Galveston beach and dune systems will be increased in size to reduce storm surge impacts.

That area is one of the richest wildlife areas in the state. Millions of birds migrate to the coastal marshes there every year. They depend on the wetlands to fish and nest.

Tens of thousands of geese take to the wing at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge after Hurricane Ike.
Proud new parents

The Corps’ Coastal Protection Study lays out a plan to restore degraded ecosystems to create natural buffers that protect communities and industry on the Texas coast from erosion, subsidence, and storm losses. It includes approximately 114 miles of breakwaters, 15 miles of bird rookery islands, 2,000 acres of marsh, 12 miles of oyster reef, and almost 20 miles of beach and dune. 

The plan varies by coastal region and takes in everything between Beaumont and Brownsville.

The total cost: $26 billion. But it would reduce flood damaged structures by 77% in a 1% (100-year) event, and save an estimated $2.25 billion per year during the 50-year life of the project.

If authorized and funded by Congress, subsequent phases of the project would include preliminary engineering and design; construction; and operations and maintenance. Completion of preliminary engineering and construction of the Recommended Plan would depend on Congressional approval and funding. USACE believes the recommended plan could be designed and then constructed within 12 to 20 years. 

Meeting Dates, Must Register First

The Corps will hold the six meetings on:

  • Monday, November 16, 2020 from 11:00AM to 1:00PM and from 6:00PM to 8:00PM
  • Thursday, December 3, 2020 from 11:00AM to 1:00PM  and from 6:00PM to 8:00PM
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2020 from 11:00AM to 1:00PM and from 6:00PM to 8:00PM

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/7/2020

1166 Days since Hurricane Harvey