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THE FACTS Article on Reopening the Mouth
Posted on Jan 28th, 2016
ANGLETON — Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have submitted grant applications that could fund two Brazoria County coastal projects.
Chris Sallese told commissioners during a presentation this week the Corps was looking at a permanent fix to keeping the mouth of the San Bernard River open, as well as renovating and extending the Quintana pier. It is seeking funding for the projects through Restore Act grants, which are being paid from fines assessed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
“We’ve already submitted both projects,” Sallese said.
The Corps still needs to conduct a geotechnical investigation on the mouth of the river, Sallese said, as well as additional surveys to get a better count on the necessary quantity of dredge material...As for the mouth of the San Bernard River, Sallese said redredging the mouth is the only viable alternative. The other option, establishing a jetty system, would cost a minimum of $30 million.
“Whether you put a jetty on one or both sides of the San Bernard, or even if you put it on the Brazos River, you’re going to have to eventually dredge one side of the jetty because of what’s coming down the river,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Dude Payne said. “With 26 coastal counties, plus cities like Corpus Christi and Galveston vying for money, to try to go in and say we want $80 million for one project, that’s pretty much a no-brainer that that project is not going to happen.”
Dredging would cost about $10.3 million, and because the project is a coastal restoration effort, it would be eligible for a portion of the $1.2 billion available in federal funds, Sallese said.
“We’ve got the permitting underway as well as the final design and construction,” Sallese said, referring to permits from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the General Land Office.
After silting shut the river mouth several years ago, a $2.4 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineer project dredged the San Bernard open in 2009. It closed again in December 2013.
With the mouth of the river closed, the river mostly makes a left turn at the Intracoastal Waterway, exiting through the west floodgate of the Brazos River. The flow pattern causes silting around that floodgate, which can lead to problems for barge traffic passing through the area.
Grant applications are due April 15, and the Restore Act Council will announce the recipient sometime after that, Sallese said. Funds should start flowing next year.
“Without state support, this project will not make it to the next round for Pot 2 funding,” Sallese said. “It’s important that we continue to engage all the right folks at the state.”