Our support of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers’ basic protection strategy, a coastal spine, should come as no surprise. However, Texas A&M University at Galveston and its partner research organizations, Delft Technical University in Holland and Jackson State University, have studied and refined the Ike Dike concept for years, so there’s a rich store of knowledge available for developing beneficial modifications to the corps’ tentatively selected plan.

Change No. 1: Move the proposed levee and flood-wall land barriers from behind the coastal highways to the coast, and construct the protection needed as natural-appearing fortified dunes.

William Merrell is president emeritus, regents professor and Mitchell chair for the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M University at Galveston.



(9) comments

Joel Martin

An excellent choice. Unfortunately it's probably too logical to be considered by the Corps.

Jose' Boix

It was great to read the opinion of the developer and a most learned professional regarding the current proposals versus his original plan. Dr. Bill Merrell is the best authority on this critical subject and design. Paraphrasing one of former President George H. W. Bush (RIP) quotes: I’m worried that sometimes idealism will get in the way of what I think is sound engineering.

Steve Fouga

The coastal spine as recommended by Bill Merrill is an overblown behemoth that will never be built, as learned as Dr. Merrill is. There are simpler solutions that would provide almost as much protection, and cost less. We should look for the knee in the curve, rather than the very most robust solution.

I also wonder if the full-up "coastal spine" concept has been tested against a Harvey-like storm, where freshwater runoff is as threatening as storm surge. Surely the Corps ran that case as part of their study, right?

George Croix

And the beachfront multi-million dollar house owners are most likely worried that a surge dune would get in the way of their ocean view.
Can't please everyone.......[wink]

Steve Fouga

Yeah, the beachfront folks are in a pickle. If the levee is built behind them, their property will be in more danger than it is now. If the levee is built in front of them, they lose their view, and property values drop. I'm not sure which I would want, if I were wealthy enough to own beachfront property. I guess if I were wealthy enough, I'd want the dune behind me, knowing I could afford to rebuild... 🤔

First-world problem... [cool]

George Croix

And so we add just one more issue to the pile to be resolved in just the decades long courtroom battles that will occur before any other than the first shovel of 'dedication' dirt is tossed.....

Gary Miller

One thing is certain. If a plan is ever approved it will be one that most increases the bureaucrat service fee for every bureaucrat involved, before, during and ever after.

Steve Fouga

And not just bureaucrats, Gary, but people who do real work! Imagine the battalions of maintenance personnel it’ll take to keep 75 miles of levees, dozens of floodgates, who knows how many pumps, not to mention the Bolivar Roads Gate, in working condition. I think I read that such maintenance is paid for by taxes levied in the county where said infrastructure is.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Steve, if memory serves me correctly, in New Orleans there are Levee District taxing entities who are responsible for such maintenance and I believe they are structured on a parish basis as you indicate (counties in Texas). Last I knew Orleans Parish levee taxes were running around 4 mils.+. These are overseen by a Board of Levee Commissioners with all the political schemes and scams one would expect.

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