GALVESTON — A joint legislative committee will meet Monday in Galveston to discuss the feasibility of building a coastal barrier system to protect Galveston, Bolivar and the greater Galveston Bay area from hurricane storm surge.

Lawmakers and proponents of several proposed systems, including the so-called Ike Dike, will meet at 10 a.m. at Lecture Theater 142 on the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus, 200 Seawolf Parkway.

The creation and maintenance of such a protective system could cost billions of dollars.   

“This is a fact-finding meeting to educate committee members on the pros and cons and costs of a coastal barrier system,” said State Rep. Joe Deshotel, who chairs the House Land and Resources Management committee.

“We have to start somewhere. We have to understand what’s involved so we can make an informed decision,” he said.

Members of the House Land and Resources Management and the Senate Natural Resources committees will attend. Chairmen are Deshotel and State Sen. Larry Taylor. 

Jim Blackburn of Rice University and Bill Merrell and Len Waterworth of Texas A&M University at Galveston will deliver testimony.

Blackburn is an environmental law professor who has proposed a system of smaller barriers. 

Merrell is a professor and chairman of marine sciences at the university and originator of the Ike Dike project.

Waterworth is a professor of marine administration and the researcher who is charged with coordinating hurricane surge protection research between Texas A&M faculty and research partners at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He was formerly the executive director of the Port of Houston Authority.

Several studies are underway to look at the efficacy of a storm surge barrier. 

The public is invited and public testimony will be heard.



What: Legislative hearing on a coastal barrier system

Where: Lecture Theater 142, Texas A&M University-Galveston campus, 200 Seawolf Parkway

When: 10 a.m. Monday

(5) comments

Lew Fincher

I'm just curious to find out what will take place at this meeting that will be different from so many of the other meetings on this subject. Will it be more rehashing of the same discussions before, or will new data and information be submitted... and find a route to a conclusion / decision?

One note that is so important in pondering this subject is the decision makers seriously must understand the history of impacts from historical tropical cyclones... even well past the 1900 Storm. This area has been devastated by known tropical cyclones well before the NWS official history of hurricanes which at this point only starts in 1851. How much of this is understood by the decision makers? There are hurricane historians that can assist in their gaining of that history.

Steve Fouga

If the decision makers aren't using the history discussed below, the most sophisticated computer modeling techniques available, state-of-the-art civil engineering methods, a knowledge of the most up-to-date environmental restrictions, the best legal advice concerning the rights of property owners, and of the finest cost-estimating tools in existence, then they're not playing with a full deck.

George Croix

While all that thinking and planning about keeping storm surge out is going on, toss in a thought or two about how to get a 40" rain in a 24 hour period OUT if the area is closed up against incoming surge. Claudette in '79 could as easily live again as Ike could, and it's not impossible to get a combination of the two....

William Ferrary

Okay, big storm is onshore and surge is stopped; now, where does all that water go?

Steve Fouga

Back into the Gulf.

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