President Obama recently signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the National Act (WIIN) into law. Like many major spending acts, there’s a lot of “stuff” in this bill. It includes funding to help Flint, Michigan recover from its lead crisis, help for water projects in California, as well as re-authorization of several big conservation and restoration acts.
For those of us in Southeast Texas, there was one potentially important item in the bill. It includes a provision to speed up feasibility studies for a coastal storm surge protection system for Galveston Bay and the Houston area. This is what is more commonly known as the “Ike Dike.” The provision was added by Senator John Cornyn.
It makes the Army Corps of Engineers take certain studies into account that were already developed by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District while completing their Storm Surge Suppression Study.
In English, this provision is meant to cut some red tape that might stand in the way of making a theoretical plan to suppress storm surge a reality.
Why do we care about this?
Well, Eric and I have written about this topic in the past. We are both firm believers that this project is necessary. Given how slow this idea has been progressing, we both believe that some action is better than no action.
Houston has little to no protection from a worst-case scenario hurricane, should it occur. The economic impacts alone, both at a local and national scale of a worst-case scenario storm would be catastrophic. Yes, it’s easy to sit back and clamor about spending so much money to protect against the relatively low odds of a worst case storm. This may even be off your radar since the Gulf has been in a hurricane drought in recent years. But the reality is that it will happen one day. If spending a couple billion dollars now protects against hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure damage, economic loss, environmental contamination, and not to mention loss of life in the future, then it’s probably worth it.
This is a good step for the “coastal spine” to eventually be built, but there’s still a long road ahead. It’s incumbent on everyone to keep raising awareness to this issue and demand action from our leaders at all levels.
Posted at 11:10 am CT by Matt