A ring levee is a simpler way to protect a majority of Galveston from hurricane flooding. It works great in Freeport, Texas City, and Port Arthur. Thousands of Galvestonians wanted a ring levee after Hurricane Ike. Don’t throw away our most realistic flood control solution chasing William Merrill’s dream. Galveston should do something to protect us, not abdicate their responsibility in favor of fancy, second homes on the West End, or waterfront mansions of the privileged.

Merrill says sealing off both ends of Galveston Bay will keep Galveston from flooding. Even if you did seal it off before a storm, the 600-square-mile Galveston Bay holds more than enough water to drown the 200- square-mile island when the wind turns.

Merrill’s massive PR campaign has been pushing the “Ike-Dike-Kool-Aid” propaganda, dismissing the ring levee, and attacking every other idea for 10 years. He’s told every city council, wharves board, chambers of commerce, county administrator, and civic group in the five county area that his unrealistic plan is the only solution. The Corps rules required a cost benefit and alternative analysis, so they attack that process. As a result, nothing has been done to protect the island for a decade. We can do better.

John Machol



(13) comments

Steve Fouga

I have to agree that if it were just Galveston, the ring levee is the best option.

I'm not sure why Galvestonians are so against it; it's pretty easy to envision locations for the levee that wouldn't be disruptive of neighborhoods or require the taking of properties.

Affording it is a whole 'nother thing...

Patricia C Newsom

To my knowledge, the levee protecting Freeport is not a ring. This levee is on the main land and covers the southern, eastern and some of the northern areas of the city. A levee for the city of Galveston would need to be designed exclusively for Galveston’s issues.

Steve Fouga

Absolutely right!

David Smith

Galveston Islanders in 1900 knew a storm was coming before they ever had modern technology...How? The wind starting blowing from the NORTH in the middle of summer. That was their signal of an approaching Hurricane.This event still occurs today.
Ive been through Alicia.. Jerry... Ike... And Harvey as an adult. Plus Carla as a 7 year old.
This north wind is what floods Galveston ..You have 30 miles of water from Baytown to Galveston all being blown SOUTHWARD.even before the storm actually gets here.
Look at Texas City .. its protected from this because of the levee.. this levee was a direct result of the bay being washed into Texas City by Hurricane Carla in 1961.I remeber the muck and the snakes in peoples houses.. Back then .. the only protection from Galveston bay was the thigh high wall along bay street .
Galveston must be protected from the NORTH.. Its already protected by the SOUTH.
One more thing .. there is talk about building a floodgate at Dickinson Bayou?
Can you Imagine the destruction a closed floodgate on Dickinson bayou during Harvey would produce?
Texas City uses Moses Lake as a water storage during storms.. Dickinson Bayou has no such facility..
One flaw design in the present system .. this Water should be pumped back into the bay

Gary Miller

Texas City/La Marque use Moses lake to store rain water? TC employees need to be educated that when the water level in Moses lake is higher than the bay the flood gate should be open to keep stored rain from flooding TC homes. Missmanagment of the flood gate floods some homes during big rain events.

Randy Chapman

You are exactly right Gary! The City and County need to work more closely together.

Jose' Boix

My understanding is that during Harvey, the Moses Lake Gate was opened at least once if not more to released accumulated water into the bay. I believe that such procedure has been in place. If the original design would have been approved, Moses Lake would have had centrifugal pumps to pump accumulated water over the levee into the Bay. However, the "snail darter" got in the way - if my memory serves - substituting the pump over for a gravity release. So the story goes and the design completed.

George Croix

Not the 'snail darter', or whatever, fault.
The problem is the level of absurdity, if not outright idiocy, imo, that causes such 'decisions' to be made in the first place, endangering thousands of humans so a blasted minnow or spider or flea or something isn't, supposedly, harmed.

And this was from DECADES ago.
Just imagine the targeted concerns, objections, stalling and assorted messes to be made even considering, these days, a 75 mile long surge protection wall, in close proximity to a lot of money and political influence.......

Randy Chapman

The problem is that the City controls the pump stations on the levee, and the county controls the floodgate.

George Croix

The problem, imo, is the stupidity of turf wars and/or lack of communication associated with multiple entities engaged in ONE common purpose - such as, for instance, flood protection using the TC Levee system.
Should already have quality radios, but if not, maybe fork over a few hundred bucks for a few simple civilian type GMS handheld radios, in case phone and cell service is out. I've got 2 - they work great as far as 31 miles that I personally know of.....
Even with that, it doesn't take a wall mounted certificate to look down and say, hmmm...the water on the lake side of the gate is higher than on the bay side, so I should open the gate for a while - and vice versa.
Same for water on the suction side of the pumps, versus the discharge side to decide to start/stop the pumps.
It's not a command level decision.
It's simple delegated common sense to anyone trusted to operate the equipment. Or, should be. If not, if it has become command level, then THERE is the problem...too many Chiefs, and not enough Indians......

David Smith

Yes.. it was opened once because they ran out of capacity.. never remember that ever being done..
And yes .. the corp denied pumping wster over the levee

Gary Miller

Comprehensive? That phrase has ruined many plans. Merrel and Corp are trying to create a 'comprehensive' flood protection design. Individual plans for each area would produce the best protection quicker. It will take longer and cost more to conclude [ learn or prove ] that a comprehensive plan won't work than to just do the local plan.

Steve Fouga

Gary, I couldn’t agree more.

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