Energy & Environment

‘Ike Dike’ Project Leaders Field More Questions, Concerns From The Public

At a local forum, the Galveston area community will get a chance to raise concerns.

Fishermen on a Galveston Island Jetty

Leaders from local environmental groups are holding a public forum Thursday night to ask for more input about Ike Dike, the proposed storm barrier system for the Texas Gulf Coast. The massive Army Corps of Engineers project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade, and it’s still raising concerns in the community.

Protecting coastal areas from storm surge is expensive, and Galveston Bay advocates say the $32 billion project needs more study before it can be funded.

They say they’re still missing answers to key questions about the environmental impact on the region. Bob Stokes, who heads the Galveston Bay Foundation, said it’s also important for the Army Corps to assess whether the plan is up to the challenge of climate change and rising sea levels.

“The issue is sea level rise fundamentally,” Stokes said. “You can argue all day about climate change, but we know that our seas are rising. We don’t know what the rates of sea level rise will be, whether it will accelerate. We suspect it will accelerate. But yes, if you’re going to spend $20 or $30 billion, with the biggest portion of that on a floodgate, I would hope they design it for future sea level rise.”

Stokes said it’s difficult to overstate the large scale of the project. “Many people have said, ‘oh, we should have constructed this yesterday,’ but in reality if you’re going to design and build a massive structure like this, you need to take the appropriate amount of time on it and make sure you do it correctly,” he said. “And there’s a lot of concerns that a lot of people have that we’d like to see addressed.”

The Army Corps has already held a series of meetings for public comment. The Ike Dike project could be ready for Congressional approval by 2021.

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