Stokes: Cost must be considered in building storm surge barrier
Since funding for an 'Ike Dike' may be problematic, it's time to look back at a more reasonably priced solution
By Bob Stokes
September 13, 2017 Updated: September 13, 2017 5:44pm
A coastal barrier is being proposed to protect the Bolivar Peninsula, above, and Galveston and the Bay Area from a hurricane's storm surge. For much of the last decade, our area's flood control discussion centered on building some type of protection to protect people from a large storm surge that might occur if a hurricane makes landfall near Galveston Bay. The discussion was broadened after our floods that occurred in 2015 and 2016 to include how to mitigate impacts from major rain events, and that focus will be even sharper after Hurricane Harvey.
We need to continue the discussion and planning for storm surge mitigation, but we need to do so with a new realization: Federal dollars that might have been available for our region to construct a hurricane storm surge structure may be limited as there will be even more demand for those dollars for traditional flood control. It's probably time to consider less costly options that would protect the most vulnerable parts of the Houston Ship Channel.
Over six years ago, the Rice SSPEED Center recommended a hurricane storm surge structure that would stretch across the base of the upper Ship Channel that would have theoretically protected most of the infrastructure on the Houston Ship Channel. Its cost was estimated to be $2 billion to $3 billion and it could theoretically have been designed and constructed in a matter of a few years. However, the idea gained little political support because it did not protect people who lived south of the upper ship channel. Since then, much of the local support has centered on promoting the "Ike Dike," a coastal barrier along the entirety of Galveston and Bolivar that could theoretically protect "everyone," but might cost $15 billion or more.
In addition to the capital cost of an Ike Dike, we would also need to generate local tax dollars for its operation and maintenance. One estimate is that it would cost .5 percent of the total cost of the structure to operate and maintain annually, totaling $75 million a year. To date, there has been no proposal put forward on determining who would pay those new taxes. Of note, voters in at least one Louisiana parish have voted down proposals on two separate occasions to increase taxes to maintain their storm protection levees.
A coastal spine seems simple enough, but additional levees and gates would need to be constructed across the region to protect everyone. Even without a hurricane storm surge, there is enough water in Galveston Bay to slosh around and cause flooding as the water gets pushed across the Bay in a big storm. The coastal spine would require a backside levee around Galveston to keep the island from flooding, an additional gate in Clear Lake to keep that area from flooding, and potentially a mid-bay gate to keep the upper Ship Channel area from flooding.
Because of the proposed cost and complexity of such a structure, the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a five-year Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study. The study began in November 2015 and is slated to be completed in April 2021. It is required under law before any federal dollars can be spent. The study will focus both on the proposed costs and benefits of several protection options, as well as the potential environmental impacts.
If the Corps does review the Ike Dike and determine that it is the best option for our region, it will recommend it for federal funding. But it will do no good for us if the cost of the Ike Dike makes it unlikely to ever be funded. The original motivation for constructing a storm surge barrier was to protect our area's vulnerable ship channel infrastructure, which would save Galveston Bay from an environmental catastrophe that might occur should that area be devastated by a large storm surge.
That concept morphed over time to the Ike Dike concept of protecting "everyone." It may be time to look back at a more reasonably priced structure like the Centennial Gate or some other ship channel levee or structure to protect our most important infrastructure and which would have a greater likelihood of being built because of its lower cost. Otherwise, we may be waiting until the next hurricane disaster to generate the federal dollars required to build an Ike Dike.
Stokes is president of the Galveston Bay Foundation.
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I am extremely disappointed that Mr. Bob Stokes and the GBF caved to the petro chemical industry, on a flimsy notion that the centennial gate will save Galveston Bay. by endorsing this notion when we had momentum finally going for the IKE Dike after all these years, again, i am extremely disappointed and disturbed by this.
IF anyone thinks that the powers that be, after some 50+ inches of rain or more ever floods Houston again from rain, while 500 gallons or more of gasoline in just one spill, who knows about other spilled fuel, runoff from waste sites, lawn and agricultural fertilizers, pesticides, other pollutants from the regions many other petro chemical plants,enough raw sewage to fill up the grand canyon, that by building the centennial gate @ Fred Hartman bridge and damming up the North end of Galveston Bay and after such a horrible catastrophe such as Tropical Storm Harvey, that the powers that be would ever close those gates and keep them closed with all those poisonous cancer causing toxins up inside Houston, just to save Galveston Bay, well you are dreaming. it will never happen, and the tax payer will suffer just to build a flood gate to only protect the industry, not the people and homes around Galveston Bay.
Houston or Galveston either one does not bat an eye when one of the sewage waste water treatment plants malfunctions and all of that waste is sent down stream into Galveston Bay.
any Centennial Gate must be paid for by the petro chemical industry.
say NO to the Rice Dike and the Centennial Gate.
SAY YES TO THE IKE Dike THAT MIGHT PROTECT US ALL!
kind regards, terry
RICE SPEED DIKE WOULD DESTROY SUNNY SAN LEON AS WE KNOW IT AS FISHERMANS PARIDISE
RICE SPEED DIKE WANTS TO BURY DOLLAR REEF AND SURROUND SUNNY SAN LEON WITH DREDGE AND GATE
Bay protection needed in addition to Ike Dike, Rice-based center says
By Harvey Rice
November 25, 2016 Updated: November 25, 2016 2:35pm
GALVESTON - As political support builds for a $6 billion storm-surge protection system to shield Texas' Gulf Coast from a future disaster, experts at Rice University are warning that the massive "Ike Dike" proposal won't be adequate to fully protect the coast from a destructive wall of water.
A hurricane with 130 mph winds could whip up a storm surge within Galveston Bay, sending a tsunami-like wave crashing into residential and industrial areas, warned Phil Bedient, the director of Rice University's Severe Storm Protection Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. Worse, a large-enough storm could push water above the 17-foot storm surge gate that would link dikes on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, resulting in a potentially lethal storm surge.
"There are just too many ways to overtop 17 feet," Bedient said.
The SSPEED Center says it has come up with the only plan so far to protect the vulnerable petrochemical complexes and residential areas from a surge originating from inside Galveston Bay.
The center believes the bay protection plan, known as the In-Bay System, is necessary to complement the Ike Dike, the coastal barrier recommended this year by the six-county Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District.
While he said the Ike Dike would provide adequate protection from a storm like Hurricane Ike, which made landfall on the eastern tip of Galveston Island in September 2008, it would not do so should a larger or similar storm strike from a different angle. "We just want to make sure we have multiple lines of defense," Bedient said. A storm surge sweeping into petrochemical complexes could cause between $50 billion and $90 billion in damage, he added.
SSPEED and researchers at Texas A&M Galveston, including Bill Merrell, the marine scientist who developed the Ike Dike concept, differed for years over the best approach to storm-surge protection. In 2010, SSPEED proposed several smaller projects that could be built faster and cheaper with local money, reasoning that getting federal dollars would be a long process that might not be completed before the next big storm.
The center's ideas failed to gain political traction, and the storm surge district endorsed the Ike Dike concept. SSPEED now backs the Ike Dike idea, too, but believes it's not enough. It favors building a system of offshore berms inside the bay and a surge gate across the Houston Ship Channel near San Leon. North of the gate, the berms would run along the off-shore side of the ship channel. South of the gate, the berms would run along the side of the channel closest to shore until they tied into the Texas City Levee, which would be raised. At the northern end, a berm-levee would extend east to Houston Point near Baytown and go several miles inland.
Building the In-Bay System would add about $2.5 billion to the estimated $6 billion cost of building the Ike Dike, which itself is part of a broader $11.63 billion plan for protecting Galveston, Harris, Chambers, Brazoria, Jefferson and Orange counties.
The cost of the proposed storm barrier could also be raised by an enhancement being promoted by the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M Galveston, although no estimates have been made. Instead of raising the coastal highway or building a berm inland, the cheapest methods for building a storm-surge barrier to protect Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, the center is proposing a hard barrier on the beach masked by a dune system built with sand dredged from the Gulf of Mexico. The storm-surge district decided not to include the In-Bay System in its final recommendation because of misgivings by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about the effect on marine life.
The Texas A&M center is also skeptical about the need for the In-Bay System.
"Rice is doing great work ... but the consensus is that you want to do as little in the bay as possible," said Sam Brody, a Texas A&M marine scientist. He said buying out homeowners in hazardous areas or elevating structures are among the alternatives to the In-Bay system.
The SSPEED Center is studying how the In-Bay System would affect the environment and expects to complete its report in late 2017 or early 2018, Bedient said.
"We are looking at this very carefully," Bedient said. He said that there are already banks of dredged material rising as much as 25 feet out of the water along the ship channel. The In-Bay System would extend those banks, leaving access to the bay through a number of small boat gates.
The levees would be designed with hiking and biking trails that would allow treks several miles into the bay. Bedient said the In-Bay system's lower price means it can be built using local funds, allowing work to begin on it as part of a storm-surge system before federal money becomes available.
Congress won't consider funding the Ike Dike project until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its study of what storm-surge protection measures are needed. The Corps is studying the entire coast and will make recommendations independent of the storm surge district's. The recommendation for the six-county area in the storm-surge district study is scheduled to be completed in June 2018.
The In-Bay System will be eligible for federal funding only if the Corps includes that concept in its recommendation.
Galveston Bureau Reporter, Houston Chronicle
>>> The levees would be designed with hiking and biking trails that would allow treks several miles into the bay.<<<
I remember the RICE SPEED Dike people were wanting to completely draw us off the map to make way for recreational use after the next big one. it's about the big petro chemical and the shit channel that funnels all of Houston Texas waste just about every time they flush a toilet after main breaks or over flows and heads our way.
LEAVE GALVESTON BAY ALONE RICE SPEED, PLEASE! GO AWAY!
JUST SAY NO TO THE DAMN RICE SPEED DIKE NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU MUST DO IT!
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
IKE DIKE 3rd PROPOSAL CALLS FOR 'MID-BAY' GATE NEAR SAN LEON ACROSS TO SMITH POINT AREA
say no to the RICE DIKE and or any Centennial Gate across the end of Galveston Bay at Fred Hartman Bridge, including the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (LSCNRA, which is the RICE DIKE in disguise, don’t take the bait). ...
Thursday, November 27, 2014
IKE DIKE VS RICE DIKE PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT PLEASE WRITE IN SUPPORT OF TAMU IKE DIKE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
*** Ike Dike Scientist Professor William Merrell sees NO chance of compromise !
Monday, April 15, 2013
Hurricane Ike: 5 Years Later Conference Rice Dike Proposal September 24-25, 2013
Sunday, June 9, 2013
RICE DIKE AND IKE DIKE ARE RIVALS NO MORE, AND HAS BACKED OFF THE PROPOSAL OF A 20-MILE 25 FOOT LEVEE ALONG SH 146
Monday, November 18, 2013
Is your community just collateral damage? RICE DIKE VS IKE DIKE
Friday, December 6, 2013
IKE DIKE TAMU VS Rice SSPEED Dike Centennial gate from Hell
October 10, 2012
IKE DIKE PROPOSED BY RICE UNIVERSITY hangs our Bayshore communities out to dry, IN 25 FEET OF WATER, to make way for WATERFRONT RECREATION $$$
Sunday, December 9, 2012
*** RICE DIKE PROPOSAL COULD DESTROY GALVESTON BAY BAYSHORE COMMUNITIES
Sunday, June 26, 2016
GALVESTON BAY STUDY RECOMMENDS STORM SURGE PROTECTION MEASURES FOR UPPER TEXAS COAST
June 21, 2016
The recommendation takes parts of two alternatives that had been released as possible recommendations earlier this year. IT DOES NOT INCLUDE A PROPOSAL TO BUILD A LEVEE ALONG STATE HIGHWAY 146, WHICH DREW OBJECTIONS FROM SOME COUNTY RESIDENTS WHO COULD HAVE BEEN LEFT OUTSIDE THE WALL. snip...
Saturday, November 26, 2016
RICE SPEED DIKE WOULD DESTROY SUNNY SAN LEON AS WE KNOW IT AS FISHERMANS PARIDISE
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas USA 77518 Galveston Bay, on the bottom firstname.lastname@example.org