Monday, January 25, 2010

The Landfilling of SPI

The land is rising around South Padre Island. It not because of any geology, but because they're bringing in landfill by the truckload. The fill material is mainly from landfills outside San Bonito and is higher in clay, better "foundation soil." The reason is because new flood elevation laws that require new construction to be at least 5 feet above street grade (the SPI roads are about 5 feet above mean sea level).

I can see why certain elevations are needed, although with stilt houses it shouldn't matter. Look at what Mr. Fanke did on The Shores, with a blow-though garage downstairs and the living areas on the second and third floors. I don't think he used a lot of landfill material except for shaping some landscaping. You have to admit it is pretty nice.

That's a sore issue but I also fear for the land itself; it turns it into yet more impervious cover that won't replenish the shallow freshwater aquifer we have. That's important if you have a small tree or want a big bush. I don't know if anyone has thought about that. The largest freshwater lenses we have under the island are probably those empty lots along Padre Boulevard, between Isla Blanca and Schlitterbaun, and up by some rather large dunes up to the north. I have no idea if the dang aquifer is important but I do know that if we pave this island solid with impervious cover, not a speck of native green anywhere, there would be Hell to pay.


Anonymous said...

It's really not a big deal because the fill is going to new construction and there is very little of it going on right now. I agree this clay they are bring in from the resacas is crap but where else could you find any solid fill to build on. The biggest problem I see with it is when they build next to an existing, older, home it creates a drainage problem. I have noticed my soild has eroded somewhat over the past few years and I would like to get my hands on some of that fill you mention. You can still plant in it as long as you dig deep and wide.

Sam said...

Ah yes, I ended before I talked about the "orphaned house effect." That's where on older house at street level gets surrounded on 3 sides by new houses, and the yard starts flooding because there's no overland flow. Fortunately (knock on wood) that hasn't happened to us yet.

Good comment and it's not all that bad, other than stilt homes don't require such landfill. What is driving that is flood insurance, and it seems they want to insure your first floor even if you don't live in it - which is our case. I tried to get ZERO insurance for my garage (because we're on stilts) but the insurance company would have nothing of it. I think we settled at the bare minimum of $20,000 in personal property.

Which is also OK but when I moved down here from Austin, I still haven't unpacked all those boxes! LOL