Because Galveston Island is actually a barrier reef, it shifts over time. That shifting leads to both erosion and beach growth. That creates a big challenge when it comes to knowing how beaches will react to man-made changes along the coastline.
The Galveston Park Board of Trustees is now partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a virtual model of the coastline and a strategy that will help predict how the beaches will move in the future. This is Park Board Director Kelly de Schaun.
"One of the great benefits of a system like this is that is allows us to test out different hypothesis before having to invest capital and infrastructure. So we will be able to than vet the different interventions or solutions that we've identified and then to filter those through different criteria."
The Corps will develop a tool that crunches data, things like currents, tides and even the size of the grain of sand on the beach. De Shaun says the new 50-year strategy will change the way the island deals with shifting beaches.
"We have points where the beaches are growing and that happens to be on either end of the island, the east side where East Beach is, or on the far west side, which is San Luis Point. But in the middle, we have erosion. So what is the amount of sand that we could move within that literal area and be able to stabilize the coastline with small, regular maintenance projects as opposed to having to wait only for large interventions of sand."
The so-called "sand management plan" will cost around $200,000 dollars and should be ready to begin using early next year.