A continuous refrain used to counter the need to protect Galveston with a ring levee system on the city’s bay side has been that Galveston will “drown in a soup bowl” when the levee fails.

This rhetoric is a tactic to squash any discussion that might diminish the need for the Ike Dike. A ring levee protecting Galveston will not cause Galveston to drown, but it does take the city out of the cost/benefit analysis of the Ike Dike.

Galveston is not New Orleans, which has levees designed to continually keep water out of the city because it's below sea level. If the levees fail, as happened in 2005, water floods New Orleans whether or not a storm is occurring.

A ring levee would keep water in Galveston Bay from flooding the city only during a storm. The Ike Dike, which would seal off Galveston Bay from the ocean during a storm, would still leave Galveston vulnerable to flooding when hurricane force winds blow bay water into the city. The only “bowl” is created by those who are constrained by the notion that the Ike Dike is the only option on the menu.

Bill Kiene



(2) comments

Steve Fouga

I agree 100% with Bill's analyses of both the technical benefits of a Galveston Ring Levee and of the motivation of the people touting the more grandiose coastal spine approach.

As I understand a ring levee, it could protect not only against storm surge but, if designed properly, could also protect against freshwater flooding due to rain events like Harvey. If the city's drainage paths were designed with gates in the levee that could be closed in the event of flooding, the "soup bowl" could then simply be pumped down and the flooding eliminated or avoided to begin with. Downtown and Broadway would never flood again, either from hurricanes or heavy rains. Of course the gates and pumps would have to be properly maintained and operated.

George Croix

So far, TC industry, business, and homes have been pretty well served by it's position in a 'soup bowl', except a few times when the floodgate handling was mishandled.
If the screw pumps ever totally failed, all inside are, well, screwed, but anything built has to be maintained, and so far, so good......
Which, imo, boils down to, for Galveston, an argument on whether something already proven elsewhere, and thus known to be not just workable but likely TO work, is better as Something than waiting and hoping for The Whole Thing, when it's a LOT more likely you'd get the first before the latter, if for NO other reason than it would be mega cheaper, and shouldn't be tied up for years in endless lawsuits and turf wars.........

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