Kelly Burks-Copes, project director for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Texas Protection and Feasibility Study, was quoted in an article (“Groups say maps show corps’ true plans for Ike Dike,” The Daily News, Dec. 4) stating that the Army Corps is “only at 10 percent design at this point.”

If the corps is so uncertain of the placement of the coastal barrier alternative, how can they properly evaluate the impacts to the environment or to the people who make their home on the upper Texas coast?

She was also quoted as stating that the next two months are the only time in the development of that final study during which people will be able to submit their comments on the proposal. The corps is asking the public to make comments on a $30 billion dollar project that is 10 percent complete and will not allow the public to comment once they have completed their study.

This doesn’t demonstrate transparency or an appropriate level of concern for the public’s input.

There’s no location on Galveston or Bolivar for this barrier wall that would avoid negative impacts; every home beachside of the barrier would be at risk for induced flooding, thousands of homes are at risk for eminent domain, and even homes behind the barrier would be at risk of backside wind-driven flooding.

Burks-Copes additionally commented that “(the barrier) could very well move to the front of the island.” Does this mean a wall on the beach? What about Texas law requiring public beach access? Would we now have potential weak points along this T-wall to allow for beach access? Where would they find sand for the 5,000 acres of beach renourishment in front of the barrier to ensure we have a beach? How often would it need to be renourished? What kind of long-term maintenance costs would be incurred, and will this be a burden on taxpayers?

In terms of environmental impacts, such hardened structures like walls or gates will inevitably impact the ecosystem function surrounding Galveston Bay. Estimates for flow constriction (28 to 39 percent) through the gates will result in a decrease of tidal range and sediment transport, alterations in water salinity, and increased erosion in wetlands and beach front areas. This limits the amount of habitat available to coastal wildlife such as nesting birds and sea turtles, poses a threat on the migratory stages of aquatic species such as shrimp, fish, and dolphins, and reduces viability of our oyster reefs. These ecosystem malfunctions caused by such an extensive hardened structure will also certainly have a negative impact on our local economy through a loss in beach tourism, nature tourism, recreational fishing and commercial fisheries.

At the community meeting in Galveston, the information presented was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and showed the only location of the barrier as described in the Coastal Texas Protection and Feasibility Study. Residents of Texas deserve the opportunity to comment based on the final placement of the structure and not on “a line that is very conceptual.”

Theresa Morris is the gulf program coordinator for the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

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(6) comments

David Schuler

Right now, EVERY home is subject to potential flooding and destruction. Apparently that's the best option.

Bailey Jones

This is the hubris of government. The Ike Dike will affect the coast and the people who live there for generations. It won't hurt anyone or anything to spend a couple of years hashing out the design - in full view of the public. The corps has made plenty of environmentally questionable decisions in its past, it would be a shame to destroy Galveston.

Steve Fouga

Large projects, whether government or industry, are never designed all at once, but instead through a series of iterative refinements. Inevitably this means that someone is forced to create the first pass -- the initial "baseline." Sometimes this first pass is expansive, encompassing everything that could reasonably be expected, to set an upper bound on cost. The first pass is necessarily simplistic, rudimentary, because there hasn't been enough time to gather all the required data, to study all the options, to get public comments, etc. A line is drawn on a map to the best of an engineer's ability, because someone has to be the first to draw the line. It won't be the last line drawn, so don't panic.

I think the Corps was smart to present a first pass incorporating many of the elements already associated with the descriptions provided earlier by A&M and Rice, adding some of their own, knowing that reality will eventually set in, the cost will be too high, the public will comment, and elements will be removed. They've created a menu of sorts, and the comments are already starting to roll in, ahead of schedule.

This will be a long slog.

Randy Chapman

To the contrary, the Ike Dike will be built. It will be built not to protect you, but the petrochemical industry. Your/our comments have little to do with anything, other than a feel-good moment.

Paul Hyatt

The Ike dike if built will cost 1000 times more than anyone projected. There will be so many law suits by the enviromentalists who will claim something no one has ever heard of will be harmed. Home and land owners will be suing because they will either be taking your land or people will be suing because they are left out. I also believe that there will be areas that they will deem to be flood plains and those poor peoples homes will be lost for the good of the rest of the area.... If the Bayous and diversionary canals are not cleaned out so that they water can flow towards the bay, all the Ike Dike will do is trap the water and flood us worse....

Gary Scoggin

There are two different scenarios. The Ike Dike protects against tidal surge but not heavy rainfall. Cleaning the bayous, etc, helps against heavy rainfall but does little for tidal surge. The first order of business is to decide which event we most need to protect against.

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