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What is the environmental impact of building an Ike Dike?

Maybe we should try to figure that out.

Plans for building a massive storm-surge protection system for the Houston area are rushing ahead before officials determine whether the project could harm Galveston Bay, environmental groups say.

The Sierra Club and the Galveston Bay Foundation, the environmental groups most closely watching the planning process, worry that there’s been too much focus on how to build the so-called Ike Dike and not enough on its impact on the bay.

“The Ike Dike has gained traction and local government support,” said Scott Jones, spokesman for the Galveston Bay Foundation. “We understand that, but we don’t think the environmental questions have been answered.”

Brandt Mannchen, spokesman for the Sierra Club’s Houston Regional Group, agreed. “We really need to look at the environmental impacts and, from our standpoint, should have looked at them first. We are kind of doing this backward.”

[…]

The groups are concerned that political momentum for the existing proposal may be so strong by then that the study results will have little influence.

“Maybe the Ike Dike is the best thing since Wonder Bread, but right now we don’t know because we haven’t looked at it,” Mannchen said.

See here for previous Ike Dike blogging. I guess we need someone to create some models of the various proposals, to simulate what the effects of building them are, as well as the effect of having them or not having them in place when a big storm hits. It may be that even with some negative effects from the construction, the mitigation in the event of nightmare hurricane is more than enough to make it worthwhile. Or not. Who knows? It sure would be nice if we did.

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4 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    For the Bolivar peninsula, I believe there are already plans in the works to raise State Hyw. 87 from the High Island turn to Gilchrist, but I don’t know by how much. Any barrier westward from this might be better built further to the bay side than the existing Hwy 87, since the Gulf beaches are relentlessly moving inland on Bolivar. So, any barrier spine built on Bolivar will eventually become a seawall. Large portions of old Hwy 87 east of High Island are already in the Gulf.

  2. voter_worker says:

    I suspect the other barrier in Texas enjoys a far higher priority in Congress and the incoming Administration.

  3. Jen says:

    That is probably true, but the other barrier seems to be morphing slowly but surely into some sort of fence, paid for by US taxpayers of course. I think it would be best to put the Ike Dike gate from the north end of the Texas City levee across to Smith Point, then a levee up Smith Point Road to the northeast, with some gates or such for wildlife or fresh water movement through the levee if necessary. I don’t know but it seems like that would have less of an eco impact, and best protection for the least money. The Bolivar Peninsula seems to be being rebuilt in a hardened fashion, so there is likely reduced benefit to trying to protect anything there other than evacuation routes. West End Galveston Island should buy their own wall if they want one. They know where they are building, and what happened to Bolivar.

  4. voter_worker says:

    Jen, your proposed location makes a lot of sense in terms of protecting assets (refineries) and minimizing environmental impacts by virtue of placement and length.