A packed house of 83 interested residents attended Breakfast on the Bernard, hosted by Friends of the River San Bernard, at Dido’s Restaurant on Saturday, August 2. They came to hear Christopher W. Sallese, retired Colonel from USACE Galveston, now with Dannenbaum Engineering, give an update on the RESTORE Act funded project of dredging open the mouth of the river. Brazoria County Commissioner Dude Payne, Pct. 1 introduced the speaker.
Discussion was started last December with Brazoria County Commissioners about it being a RESTORE Act funded project.
Left, Christopher W. Sallese, Dannenbaum Engineering, Tim Osting, PE, D.WRE, Aqua Strategies Inc; Susie Alford, President, CEO Berg Oliver; on a recent data gathering trip to the mouth.
The first dredging, done in 2009, was an earmark in the Federal budget allocation that directed approved funds be spent on opening the mouth of the river. Since then, the Federal government does not earmark projects.
Read about the State of Texas website RestoreTheTexasCoast.org
that features links and background information on funding sources available –– RESTORE, NFWF/GEBP (Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund) and NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment).
Sallese stated the project is not as simple as just opening the mouth since it is a very complex ecosystem. The mouth has dynamics with the Brazos River locks of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Port of Freeport and the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge where the concern is whether it will receive any environmental benefits and not be damaged.
Currently all subcontractors of the project are gathering data that has second and third effects all the way up and down the coast including the Port of Freeport. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been very supportive in supplying past data concerning the mouth.
The goal is to keep the mouth open for 7-10 years instead of the 3-4 years as in the past.
The plan is to have a package ready by April-May of 2015 to forward to the RESTORE Act committee saying why opening the mouth is a good thing and will include the environmental work, the engineering plans and the cost which should sit well with the committee.
The important focus of the overall benefit of the project is the ecosystem restoration of the habitat and restoring the natural flow of the San Bernard River.