Monday, June 25, 2007

More on Beach Erosion

Today I did a wee bit of research on the coastal barrier islands of Texas and came up with some rather bizarre stuff. Not being a scientific journal with anything to prove, feel free to Google the subjects yourself.

First stop was a very large development in West Galveston which is being protested because the developers plan to flatten down the dunes and a major dune ridge; three geologists testified against the project but apparently Galveston leaders are more interested in more tax base and … well more tax base. The geologists warned that flattening the island and creating marinas on the bayside would create “blow through” zones in a hurricane. Sounds vaguely familiar.

Second stop was a 1993 Shiner-Mosely document that said there’s plenty of marine sand everywhere near SPI, based on a literature search, core-samples, and all kinds of high tech stuff. Wow, aren’t we paying the same company $600,000 today to say the same damn thing? Fourteen years and they’re still sucking the hind teat!

Third stop were some geology studies done by various federal agencies who characterized our Island as being in the “destructive” phase. The jetties, currents, subsidence, and sea level rise means the beach will disappear no matter what we do; a case study on Hurricane Allen of 1980 was most informative.

I could NOT find a single peer-reviewed study of any man-made devices that would slow or stop beach erosion in the US. This includes jetties, groins, geo-tubes, offshore artificial reefs, or even continuous dune systems. My conclusion is that none of them work, and if we want a back we’ll have to pony up about a million bucks a year just to keep what we have, such as by dredge renourishment.


Mike said...

When I was but a lad, everyone hung out at the County Park on the south end. It was the center activity: surfing and fishing and the old pavilion, the Jetty's Restaurant, etc. When I first revisited the Island in the mid 90's all the dunes there had changed. And by the way, what happened to the chipmunks?

Sam said...

Chipmunks? Maybe they were escapees from the old Safari Zoo at Isla?

Anyway, you're right about the dunes. They shift all the time and a 30-foot dune could be flat the next year.

Latest update / upshot: the Town of SPI want to annex Isla Blanca Park. Sounds strange, but I suppose it is to prevent Port Isabel or Brownsville from doing the same. Regards,

Mike said...

Nope, there were chipmunks all over the island. Cute little Critters!

Sam said...

Sounds like I should ask around and post a special blog about the chipmunks, Mike! Sound way cool, not political, and very fun.

don Miguel said...


Those little guys can still be seen scampering across the roadway on the north side exiting from the Park....Small but cute!

Infotech said...

I was researching this subject when I happened upon your site. I found a lot of the same things you did.

I've grown up on the beach. My earliest experience was at Sargent beach, where my father had poured blocks and blocks of concrete roads that are under water, and have been since I was a kid out there in the early 80s.

Later in the 80s and 90s we went to Brian Beach or Surfside beach. Now as an adult going to those same beaches I marvel at how much smaller they are than I remember them.

Do you have any sources that show before and after shots of the Gulf Coast in various places? that's mainly what I'm looking for but haven't had any luck.

Great blog. I look forward to reading it.

Sam said...

Welcome aboard IntoTech and I was just up in Surfside in Feb. Wow that was depressing, as the erosion seems be be accelerating - or maybe I'm just getting older.

I still keep thinking I could buy an appropriate dredge and hire certified people to run it and make a bundle because all those beaches could use a good squirt of nice marine sand on their beaches. Yup, I weird!

But think about it, How many billion dollars of condos and dwelling property is located between Bolivar Beach and South Padre Island?

Infotech said...

Dredging would be nice but apparently can't happen there. After a bit more research yesterday I ran across this site:

Which then led me to this PDF that states that the Freeport area beaches are in the worse possible conditions for erosion and, because of those conditions, the only way out is some sort of seawall that will wipe out any pedestrian beach front. Sad stuff...

Maybe there's another study that states something different but I haven't found it yet.

Without the beaches all you have around here is an industrial wasteland...

Sam said...

Freeport and Galveston have world-class erosion problems, much worse than our little sandbar way to the south. What we're finding out now is that without any beach renourishment every two years, along with huge cyclone waves, the results are rather shocking.

One of the apparent reasons for no more beach renourishment is lack of Corps of Engineers funds and the fact that South Texas is where a whole bunch of claims have been filed by dredge workers. It costs too much to come here because of court hassles. Only one company bid on the last proposal, and if remember right it was double the estimate.

But you're right. Poor Surfside will one day sink and wash into the Gulf and it is rather sad. /Sam