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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Ike Dike Proposed to Protect Texas Coast

By Ann Posegate

* Showers Stick Around: Full Forecast | NatCast | UnitedCast *

Landsat 7 images of Galveston, Texas before (left, 10/12/07) and after (right, 9/28/08) Hurricane Ike ("scarring" depicted by red color enhancement). Image courtesy NASA.

One year after the Hurricane Ike's 20-foot storm surge devastated Galveston, Texas, and surrounding areas, local governments are in the midst of making a decision about the proposed "Ike Dike" - an expansion of the existing Galveston Seawall that would cost the federal government billions of dollars.

The Ike Dike, as proposed by Texas A&M University at Galveston professor William Merrell, would extend the existing seawall by over 50 miles and add floodgates that would close before an approaching hurricane (more details). The idea is based on the Delta Works, a series of dams and barriers that protect the southwest Netherlands from storm surge and coastal flooding.

Supporters suggest that these additions would prevent future damage to Galveston Bay and the Port of Houston, protecting the region's oil production and shipping industry, in addition to Galveston Island's residents, infrastructure and the Galveston National Laboratory, a high-security medical research facility that houses some of the most contagious diseases in the world. Given the estimated $32 billion in damages to the Houston-Galveston area already caused by Ike and the likelihood of another catastrophic hurricane and rising sea levels, the Ike Dike's $2 to 3 billion dollar price tag and ten year timeline could make the project a worthwhile investment.

Opponents voice concern that the proposed storm barrier would alter the fragile Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, cause more coastal erosion and offer no protection from hurricane-force winds, which contributed to damage during Ike. They argue that the region could take alternative actions and that the Ike Dike should not be considered a final solution, but rather one step toward protecting the coast.

The questions remain: if rising sea levels and strong hurricanes remain constant threats to the Gulf Coast, should development along the shoreline and on barrier islands continue? Would the Ike Dike prove to be a lasting solution or just a band-aid to the already-injured subtropical shoreline that will be susceptible to hurricanes indefinitely?

By Ann Posegate  | September 9, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, Tropical Weather  
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Should that read "the Ike Dike's $2 to 3 billion dollar price tag"?

Posted by: nematode1 | September 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@nematode1 - Yes, thanks for catching that. The text has been changed.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | September 9, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Has there been any Dutch-inspired solutions for New Orleans? Has anything meaningful been done down in NOLA?

Posted by: Jamie66 | September 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Not in favor of spending tax $ on these projects, if people want 2 live in a hurricane region, it's their choice. Everyone in those areas no the danger & yet choose to live there. I shouldn't have 2 foot the bill for their choice of residence, their r far 2 many other things that money could be spent on, besides protecting vacation beach houses.

Posted by: VaTechBob | September 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

@Jamie66 - New Orleans broke ground last year for a four-year project that involves a new storm surge barrier. In addition, there are many improvements to the existing levee system that are already being implemented. Here's a related article, as well as videos and animations regarding the project.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | September 9, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Ann Posegate wrote, "... an expansion of the existing Galveston Seawall that would cost the federal government billions of dollars.

We are the federal government. So, when you say "would cost the federal government billions of dollars" that translates into "would cost us (not U.S., but "us") billions of dollars.

There are loons who argue that income tax is "voluntary", but they are ummmmm... for lack of a better word, loons. Try not paying your federal income tax and see what happens to you. Income tax is anything *but* voluntary.

The federal government enforces its collection of taxes via all of the power the federal government wields and can bring to bear upon an individual. It uses IRS employees, federal law, and the judicial system to seize all of your personal assets, to include your home. It uses police officers with guns to escort you to jail.

So explain to me why a taxpayer in Oregon benefits by having his or her tax dollars spent on a levy in Texas. I eagerly await your reply. And I truly hope you try to tell me it is for the "common welfare" because I reeeeeeaaaaaaaally look forward to that discussion. ;)

Where does it end? Or does it end? Can the federal government simply spend our tax dollars on whatever whim strikes it? Must we really hire lawyers and sue our elected representatives to force them to obey the Constitution? How sad is that?

And the dinosaur media doesn't care at all. What a sad state of affairs that is. The media is more interested in whatever story they can ring out of Galveston, Texas than they are about the constitutionality of what the federal government does in Texas. Au contraire! The media will sit on the side lines and throw stones at the federal government for not doing more! The media will, to fill air time and page space, egg the federal government on and demand to know why they didn't do more.

You are a part of the problem. Wouldn't you rather be a part of the solution?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 10, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

If person A is sitting in their house watching TV and person B enters the house with a gun and demands money from person A, we would call that theft or stealing. Would we not? And can we not agree that stealing is morally wrong?

But what if person B takes his ill gotten booty from person A and gives it all to his/her favorite charity. Is it still theft? Of course it is. And is it still morally wrong? Yes.

So what is the difference if the government, using all of its power, forces person A to hand over his/her money, and then the government doles out that money to the government's favorite charity? I fail to see the difference.

What do these two sentences mean to you -
"The United States is a government of enumerated powers. Congress, and the other two branches of the federal government, can only exercise those powers given in the Constitution."

Do they mean anything at all? Where do you draw the line on what the government can do? Do you think promoting the general welfare is misinterpreted as a means of circumventing the limits on government power?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 10, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

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