Mouth Committee: FOR Vice President Mike Goodson, FOR Board of Directors
Lower San Bernard River Eco System Project
The project will involve the dredging of approximately 400,000 cubic yards of sediment from the mouth of the San Bernard River restoring approximately 28 acres of hydrology. The primary objective is to restore and protect the natural resources by allowing the historical river flow and tidal exchange to nourish wetlands and reestablish fish passage. Approximately 200 acres of marsh habitat will also be restored.
Timeline of Events
- Jan - Resolutions to Reopen the Mouth Brazoria County Commissioners, Port Freeport, State Senator Joan Huffman
- Jun 10 - Representatives of Friends of the River (FOR) San Bernard attend the first meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council in Galveston, Tx. President Wayne Head spoke about reopening the mouth and delivered a booklet of information and photos regarding the closure to the Restoration panel. The Restoration Council is responsible for distribution of federal civil penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ligation.
- Feb 25 - Brazoria County Commissioners unanimously vote to hire Dannenbaum Engineering to begin preparation of a grant application for RESTORE Act funds to dredge open the mouth and build protective jetties to keep it open.
- Feb 27 - FOR San Bernard Announcement ad runs in THE FACTS...THANKING Brazoria County Commissioners for their efforts in supporting reopening the mouth
This ad appeared in the Feb 27 issue of THE FACTS newspaper.
Friends of the River San Bernard
A San Bernard River Mouth News Brief, Feb 2014
After being closed since December 2012, the possibility of reopening the mouth of the San Bernard to the Gulf looked dismal. Friends of the River San Bernard attended the first meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council in Galveston in June of last year. It was there, FOR learned about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill funds that hopefully will be coming to the Texas Gulf Coast.
FOR San Bernard thanks the Brazoria County Commissioners for their efforts in supporting reopening the mouth of the San Bernard by unanimously voting to enter into negotiations with Dannenbaum Engineering for the RESTORE Act funded project of dredging open the mouth and building protective jetties.
It's exciting news and we look forward to seeing progress on the river!
- Feb 28 - "San Bernard Fix in the Works" front page article appears in THE FACTS newspaper
- Mar 6 - "Grant funds the way to go for lasting San Bernard River fix", Opinions page article, THE FACTS
- Mar 6 - "Funds for dredging of San Bernard may be available", front page article, BRAZORIA COUNTY NEWS
- Mar 13 - Mike Goodson, FOR Mouth Committee, met with Dianna Kile of Congressman Randy Weber's office to compile a letter of introduction from FOR to TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker informing him of our project to reopen the mouth.
- May - Contract signed between Brazoria County Commissioners / Dannenbaum Engineering / Berg Oliver Associates
- Jul 11 - Inspection of mouth by restoration engineering team "Work on Reopening the Mouth"
- Aug 2 - Christopher Sallese, Project Mgr. Dannenbaum Engineering, gives update of the progress of opening the mouth at the FOR Breakfast on the Bernard
- Nov 15 - "Mouth of the San Bernard River Restoration Project" is listed on the NOAA website
- Jan 20 - BP Oil Spill Litigation Phase III of the BP oil spill litigation begins. District Judge Carl Barbier, New Orleans, who oversees litigation related to the BP disaster, will determine how much oil was spilled. The amount would be used to calculate damages.
- Apr 22 - Environmental Law Institute discusses where we are five years later with restoration and recovery funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Note: Currently, Dannenbaum Engineering is working on a grant application for RESTORE Act funds to dredge open the mouth and build protective jetties to keep it open. No money has been spent yet on Civil Settlement projects under the RESTORE Act.
- Sep 2 - "After a comprehensive modeling effort and the available state and federal funds, the county is reviewing a dredge only alternative which would likely cost about $2M initially, with maintenance dredging every 3-5 years." – Susie Alford, President, CEO Berg Oliver and FOR Environmental Committee Consultant.
- Sep 22 - FOR San Bernard Annual Meeting River Mouth Update
- Jan 28 - THE FACTS article "Corps Has Path to River Opening"
- Feb 6 - THE FACTS article "Support flows in for San Bernard"
- Feb 11 - THE FACTS article "OUR VIEWPOINT: River dredging project worth it if it lasts"
- Feb 16 - TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH article "Focal Point columnist Dave Berry writes about big news from Sweeny, Texas"
- Mar 14 - Toby Baker's editorial “From Destruction, Restoration”. He is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioner who is overseeing the implementation of the RESTORE Act.
- May 25 - Earlier this month, the Deepwater Horizon trustees quietly released 70 pages of their Deepwater Horizon Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) which say how the $8.8 billion will be managed over the long term. Read highlights of some of the key points
- Feb 15 - TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker announces in letter to Rep Dennis Bonnen, a draft list of projects for consideration to receive RESTORE Bucket 1 funds. The "Lower San Bernard River Eco System" project is first on the list.
- Feb 18 - Brazoria County Commissioner Dude Payne and David Linder announce good news at the FOR State of the River Meeting.
- Feb 24 - Brazoria County Commissioners Payne and Linder met with regulatory agencies at the mouth to address any issues with any permitting processes. We are definitely headed in right direction.
- Mar 1 - Spring FOR "Current News" newsletter updates information about reopening the mouth.
- Mar 3 - THE FACTS article "Fed gov't may give funds for San Bernard River project"
- May 3 - The draft MIP posted on Texas' RESTORE website. Public comment period date TBA
- May 18 - Jun 19 - TCEQ holds public comment period on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, former Commissioner for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jerry J. Langdon's letter of support
- Sep 8 - Hurricane Harvey flood waters at mouth
- Oct 18 - Pct 1 Commissioner Dude Payne gives an update on receiving RESTORE ACT Funds
- Dec 19 - US Treasury to begin the process of sending RESTORE Act funds to Texas
- Jan 26 - State Representative Bonnen, Commissioner Payne, Commissioner Linder, and project leaders from GLO, TPWD, USFWS, and USACE take investigative boat trip to the mouth.
- Feb 10 - FOR “State of the River” meeting, “We are gonna give it hell until it's open!”, Brazoria County Commissioner David Linder
- Mar 6 - US Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District Public Notice. PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant proposes to perform hydraulic dredging to restore and maintain the mouth of the San Bernard River.
- Mar 8 - Port Freeport Commissioners unanimously vote to partially finance maintenance dredging of the mouth once it is open
- Mar 10 - THE FACTS article "Port Officials Agree to Split Maintenance Dredging Costs"
- Mar 27 - Commissioners' Court of Brazoria presented RESOLUTION regarding USACE removal of the Brazos River west floodgate affecting the San Bernard mouth.
- Apr 17 - Representative Dennis Bonnen, Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta, Commissioner Dude Payne and Constable David Thacker toured the San Bernard River.
- Jun - RESTORE Act "Bucket 1" Update
- Jul 10 - Texas General Land Office Surface Lease Agreement presented at Commissioners' Court of Brazoria County.
- Aug 4 - Commissioner David Linder announced at the FOR hosted Breakfast on the Bernard, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) should get funded to dredge open the mouth by the fourth quarter of this year and unless there are unforeseen events, dredging should start the first part of next year (2019).
- May 13 - Announcement that application for the “Mouth of the San Bernard River Restoration Project” has been approved and funded. The soonest a permit can be issued is this coming August or September. Work scheduled after that will start Spring 2020, next year.
- May 18 - THE FACTS article ‘Red tape' by fed government slowed San Bernard River restoration..
- May 23 - THE COUNTY NEWS article "San Bernard project gets funding"
- Jun 25 - "Final Steps to an Open Mouth". The $10 million contract to open the Lower San Bernard Ecosystem Restoration has been OFFICIALLY approved by Brazoria County Commissioners and Texas Commission on Environment Quality.
- Feb 20 - Friends of the River SB State of the River meeting. Latest update of opening the mouth by Chris Sallese, Dannenbaum Engineering, Precinct 4 Commissioner David Linder and Precinct 1 Commissioner Dude Payne.
- Jun - Texas Stream Team "San Bernard River Watershed Report". A summary of the data collected by Texas Stream Team citizen scientists.
- Aug 7 - US Fish & Wildlife Service approves permit to open the mouth. It now goes to the US Army Corps of Engineers for approval of a permit required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.
- Sep 3 - THE FACTS article "Clearing the Way". . . San Bernard River dredging could start early next spring if Corps issues permits.
- Nov 29 - Section 401 Permit to open the mouth reviewed at TCEQ
- Jan 12 - Brazoria County Commissioners Court votes to hire Dannenbaum Engineering Houston to develop bid package at cost of $391,000 paid for with RESTORE ACT funds. Project bid date set for May 2021. Commissioner Dude Payne said “I want to say that this will be paid for with RESTORE ACT funds . . . We’re on their dollar now. We had over $500,000 in for final design . . . and this is in at $391,000, I think, so we’re going to be good for that . . . We have an aggressive timeline – we’re hoping to come back to court sometime in April and bid for the dredge, and hope to have the dredge out there sometime late May or June, and have the mouth open by hurricane season.”
- Apr 27 - Brazoria County Commissioners’ Court approved advertising bids for dredging the mouth of the San Bernard River by Order No. 6.I.3. Bid contracts should finalized by May 25th.
- Jun 4 - Consultant & FOR Co-chair Susie Alford, President, CEO Berg Oliver’s quote in THE FACTS, Fri Jun 4, pg 6A, article “Flood Fixers . . .’The (Army) Corps of Engineers and (Texas Department of Transportation) are looking at the locks right there at the (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway) . . . They’re looking at, actually, removing them. If they do that, then one of the things we’ve talked about is that we immediately need to be in front of the Corps of Engineers, be in the colonel’s office, and say ‘Your project is impacting our project, therefore they both need to be federalized. If they federalize both of them – because one truly does impact the other – then it will be on the federal dollar.’ ”
- Jun 8 - It's official...Brazoria County Commissioners voted unanimously to award dredging to open the mouth to RIGID Constructors of Lafayette, La. and Inspection Services to HDR Inc., Houston Tx. Dredging scheduled to start July this year.
- Jun 9 - THE FACTS article "River Mouth Contract in Place . . . dredging could start in July"
- Jul 16 - NTP (Notice to Proceed) has been authorized to start the project of dredging the mouth of the San Bernard River. The required Environmental Monitoring Training begins next week (19Jul21) and the Contractor will begin mobilization the week after training (26Jul21).
- Jul 26 - RIGID Constructors of Lafayette, La dredging equipment starts arriving that will widen and deepen the river channel to the Gulf.
- Aug 7 - Col. Vail, USACE, in a meeting relative to the “West Gate”, indicated that dredging of the mouth of the San Bernard could occur when USACE dredges the ICWW in that area (every two years). Commissioner Payne agreed that he would initiate the steps necessary for a written agreement addressing cost and specifications be executed between USACE and Brazoria County. While a signed dredging agreement is not in place yet, this is an encouraging initiative that has long term benefits to the county.
- Aug 12 - THE FACTS article "San Bernard dredging about to start". Natural flow to the Guld expected to be restored in 30 days.
- Aug 13 - Dredging begins today. Friday the 13th, not such an unlucky day for FOR.
- Aug 27 - Notice received that TXGLO has funded the CMP (Coastal Management Program) project of the San Bernard/Brazos River flow and sediment dynamics. The project is scheduled to begin January 2022.
Historic Articles: A Historical Look at the San Bernard (part one)
- Update Mouth Dec 22, 2020
- Update Mouth July 31, 2020
- Update: A Sea of sand July July 16, 2020
- Update Mouth June 20, 2020
- Update Mouth May 14, 2020
- Update: Dec 31, 2019
- Update San Bernard & Brazos After Imelda Sep 23, 2019
- Update Mouth Sep 7, 2019
- Update: Mouth Aug 4, 2019
- Update: Mouth Jul 4, 2019
- Update: Mouth Apr 2, 2019
- Update Mouth Feb 24, 2019
- Update: Mouth Jan 24, 2019
- Update: Mouth Jan 6, 2019
- Update: Mouth Nov 21, 2018
- Update: Video of mouth Oct 29, 2018
- Update: Mouth Oct 21, 2018 & River's End
- Update: Mouth Sep 8, 2018
- Update: Face in the Sand - Aug 23, 2018
- Update: Mouth July 6, 2018
- Update: Mouth June 3, 2018
- Update: Mouth Apr 25, 2018
- Update: Mouth Mar 20, 2018
- Update: Mouth Jan 31, 2018
- Update: Santa shocked at size of sand bar Dec 20, 2017
- Update: Mouth Dec 1, 2017
- Update: Mouth Rapidly Building Sand Nov 7, 2017
- Update: Mouth Oct 29, 2017
- Update: Reporting River Hazards Oct 28, 2017
- Update: Peach Creek Shows Height of Flood Water Oct 21, 2017
- Update: Mouth Building Sand Sep 26, 2017
- Update: Flood Waters Open Mouth Sep 16. 2017
- Update: Two Days Later Sep 10, 2017
- Update: Mouth Sep 8, 2017 Hurricane Harvey flood waters
- Update: Mouth Feb 12, 2017
- Update: Mouth Jan 12, 2017
- Update: Mouth Aug 12, 2016
- Update: ICW Flood Gates at Flood Stage Jun 4, 2016
- Update: Mouth Jun 19, 2016
- Update: Muddy Water on the ICW, May 9, 2016
- Update: Mouth Stays Shut to Flood Water, April 25, 2016
- Update: Mouth Jan 10, 2016
- Update: Mouth Nov 19, 2015
- Update: Flooding at the mouth, Oct 28, 2015
- Update: Beach Front Property, Sep 13, 2015
- Update: Mouth Apr 29, 2015
- Update: Mouth Mar 14, 2015
- Update: Mouth Nov 24, 2013
- Update: Mouth Jun 30, 2013
- Update: Mouth May 11, 2013
- Update: Mouth Mar 19, 2013
- Update: Mouth Feb 24, 2013
- Update: Mouth Dec 7, 2012 (Mouth closes a second time)
- Update: Mouth Nov 19,2012
- Update: Mouth Oct 24, 2012
- Update: Mouth Sep 22, 2012
- Update: Mouth July 4, 2012
- Update: Mouth May 20, 2012
- Update: Mouth April 24, 2012
- Update: Clash of the Currents Mouth Feb 2, 2012
- Update: Mouth Nov 25, 2011
- Update: Mouth Oct 15, 2011
- News River Mouth Inspection, Sep 12, 2011
- Update: Mouth Jul 31, 2011
- Photos and H-GAC’s “Clean Water Initiative” workshop meeting Mouth Jul 9, 2011
- Update: Mouth Jun 11, 2011
- Update: Mouth Jan 3, 2011
Sand Bars at River Mouth - March 2011
Please note date of this article as the mouth of the San Bernard has been silted shut since Dec 12, 2012
Boaters should proceed with caution and slow speed when in this area due to the shifting conditions of the sand bars.
After passing the Intracoastal Canal and heading downriver towards the Gulf, a sandbar (1) has formed on the west side, just before the opening into the old river mouth. Boaters should stay to the east side of the channel. A sandbar (2) has formed in the middle of the channel heading out to the gulf. Boaters should to be close to the west bank heading out to the gulf. Note: currently that channel is too shallow to handle boat traffic.
If you are going to the beach on the Freeport (east) side, stay close to that last point (3) that sticks out a bit on the east side, then slow down and stay left of middle in the channel.
Photos Jim Olive
First part of July 2010: shortly after the July 4 flood
Photos Albert Smith, Rio Vista
July 4, 2010: Upper river in flood stage
Photo Albert Smith, Rio Vista
April 25, 2010: Mouth of the San Bernard, sand bar
is forming on east side.
Photo Corps of Engineers
March 12, 2010: The mouth is not migrating west, but has mainly reoriented. Area where the ebb-tidal shoal is attaching to the shore on the west side, allowing sand to bypass naturally. Large amount of material has filled into the old migrated outlet.
–Nicholas Kraus, USACE
Photo Albert Smith, Rio Vista
February 27, 2010: A year after being dredged open, sand bar is forming on east side of the mouth opening.
| Photo Albert Smith, Rio Vista
February 22, 2009: Dredge at work, mouth almost open.
In January 2006, the mouth of the San Bernard River was closed by a ridge of sand built up by currents from the Brazos River mouth. The sandbar had completely stopped the flow of water to and from the Gulf. A walk of 300 yards on sand was needed to reach the Gulf. Water flowing down the river turned east into the Intracoastal Canal.
According to the Corps of Engineers, the build-up of the sandbar was caused by the Corps moving the mouth of the Brazos River to a point above and closer to the San Bernard mouth in 1929 to accommodate the Port of Freeport.
Because of the closed river mouth, currents of up to 15 knots would build up on the west end of the Brazos River floodgates on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, some 4 miles east of the San Bernard River. This caused severe navigational problems of tow barges who would have to push through the current on their way westward, striking the flood gate in many cases.
On January 13, 2009, the Corps of Engineers awarded a $2.4 contract to dredge an opening to the Gulf, 10 feet deep by 100 feet wide. The opening is not navigable for boating to the Gulf because of its varying depth but rather serves to relive the pressure of current on the Brazos River floodgates. Do not swim or wade in this area due to the strong tidal currents.
Barge, westbound, entering east gate entrance of Brazos River East Flood Gate on Intracoastal Waterway.
A Chronological Pictorial Progression to the Closing of the Mouth
The USACE report stated that the mouth of the San Bernard River was traditionally maintained at 1,100 feet wide by 8 1/2 feet deep, until 1990. In reality, the mouth was 6,000 feet SW of its original location and was 200' wide by 4' deep. At this level, there is no flow from the San Bernard River going into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is no longer capable of exiting through its traditional mouth into the Gulf.
A sandbar blocks the entrance to the Gulf. You can walk across the mouth.
Photo Louis Jones, Manager Brazoria County Airport
Nov 2005: A huge beach is in front of the river which necks down. It shows the islands in the river and the tiny river mouth. Down the beach - that's the cut in the fourth Cedar Lake. It is much bigger than the river mouth?
The mouth is closed. No flow to the Gulf of Mexico. The kayak paddle across the mouth
of the river for scale is 7 feet, 7 inches long.
Photo M Manley
"The river comes to an abrupt stop 200 yards shy of the Gulf. You can see the channel (if you want to call it that) where there is supposed to be water.
Unfortunately, there was none there. We were down there at 4:00 p.m. today during High tide."
Photo Pilot John Crosby
The aerial photo also shows the mouth completely closed...not a trickle goes out the mouth. Soon, we won't even know where the mouth used to be.
Photos are courtesy of Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association
Photo: Mark Hazelrigg
The dead end mouth of the San Bernard River
Photo Shane Pirtle
You can see the dead end of the mouth in the first stream to the right of the Gulf.
Photo Eileen Kenneda
The mouth dead ends far short of the Gulf. You can barely see the boat in the Gulf on the horizon.
There are several excellent photos of the
San Bernard mouth taken by Richard L.
Watson Ph.D., Consulting Geologist,
Dr. Watson has given us permission
to link to them on the web and to use
them in presentations, with credit.