A state senator announced a plan Monday for managing the maintenance and operations of a proposed storm-surge dike along the Texas coast.
Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, filed legislation that would put the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority board in charge of overseeing maintenance and operations of a proposed coastal spine.
The proposed spine — which Taylor, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and other Texas lawmakers support — is a barrier along the coast of Galveston and across the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel.
The coastal spine is a long way from becoming a reality. Congress would still need to approve the plan and dedicate spending for the infrastructure, which would most likely be done through an emergency spending order or in the federal budgeting process, said Jackie King, chief district director for Taylor’s office.
If approved by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Taylor’s legislation would not go into effect until the coastal spine gets support from Congress.
In March, the Texas Senate approved a resolution urging federal leaders to support the construction of the coastal spine. The resolution specifically endorses the plans developed by Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Center for Texas Beaches and Shores. The center developed the original idea of the so-called Ike Dike.
“Once it’s built, we’ll need to have somebody in place to take care of it so this is an exciting piece of the puzzle,” King said.
The legislation filed Monday, Senate Bill 2265, would establish the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority — a government entity that manages industrial wastewater treatment plants — as the local partner responsible for overseeing the maintenance and operations of the coastal spine, King said.
The authority’s board is made up of nine members, three each from Galveston, Chambers and Harris counties.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would oversee the construction of the federal project, King said. Taylor’s bill would also create a seven-member advisory committee, appointed by the governor, to consult with the corps and report to the waste disposal authority board. After construction, the advisory board would be dissolved and the authority’s board would be the governing body, King said.
“The authority is uniquely qualified to take on the role of operations and maintenance,” Taylor said in a prepared statement.
“We have made great strides toward the development of a coastal spine and the momentum is building. In conjunction with this legislation, I will continue to work with my colleagues across the state and in Congress to ensure funding for construction is secured.”
If approved, the project would be the largest under the authority’s jurisdiction, King said. But the entity has experience with other large environmental projects, said Lori Traweek, assistant general manager at the authority.
“We have a lot of regional experience,” Traweek said.
The authority’s nine-member board sets policy and governing practice for wastewater treatment projects, including the 40-Acre Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility in Texas City, Traweek said.
The Galveston County representatives on the board are Stanley Cromartie, W. Chris Peden and Ron Crowder.
The filing deadline in the Legislature for most bills was March 10, but lawmakers can still file local bills. Rep. Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston, will sponsor companion legislation in the Texas House.