I find Elizabeth Beeton’s rationale in supporting a north-facing ring levee around much of Galveston both faulty and specious (“Ring levee alone will protect Galveston from storms,” The Daily News, Jan. 4).
Her reasoning is faulty when she invidiously compares us to Freeport and Texas City, who built levees while we refused the option in 1972. (I summarize her view as “Weren’t they smart? — Weren’t we foolish?”) But please, think!
First, Freeport and Texas City actually built gulf-facing levees which act like our seawall blocking southern surge. So, they built their seawalls and we and the county wanted to add 5 miles to ours. Is that stupidity?
Second, remember that Freeport and Texas City aren’t islands. They have space. Therefore, they’ve been able to put their levee system on ground that was basically empty and available without needing to build on top of the existing populations and economic activities. We don’t have the space to do that.
Third, Texas City and Freeport have big process industries to tax for levee and pump maintenance. Without a large industrial base, Galveston’s 50,000 (it would soon be less) and weekend homeowners would have to pay for the local portion of maintaining the ring levee and its pumps at a crippling individual cost.
Worse, her reasoning is specious because while extolling “benefits” of a ring levee, she not only leaves out construction costs, she carefully omits the ongoing social and economic costs any such north-facing, circular ring levee scheme would have for us on the island.
Let’s look at the one specific example we have. The circular ring levee as proposed by the U.S. Army Corps Engineers (at an estimated construction cost of over $1 billion) would be destructive to at least five residential neighborhoods: Evia, The Crashboat Basin, Teichman Point, Channelview (rebound effects), and of course, Lindale. She ignores these costs.
She also leaves out the fact that the ring levee slicing down Harborside would massively and negatively impact the port’s ability to function and grow, and impacts the University of Texas Medical Branch as badly by cutting right through its facilities and campus, and undermining much of its present and future activities.
Nice! As well as destroying neighborhoods, this north-facing, circular levee negatively impacts two of our most important employers and tourist attractions. Finally, our share of ongoing maintenance costs aren’t even considered by her.
In fact, Beeton’s, and the corps’, circular ring levee concept is a classic example of a negative cost-benefit ratio. Such a structure will continuously cost far more to us on the island from destruction of neighborhoods, continuous obstruction of economic activity, and higher personal/property taxes than it ever would save us in very occasional storm surge protection from the north.
It may be possible to have some sort of bayside protection that wouldn’t negatively impact those who live here, but Beeton’s, the corps’ or any other circular ring levee concept placed on top of people and job sources is something we simply cannot afford.