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USACE Galveston District finalizes SNWW permit setback procedures

GALVESTON, Texas (April 8, 2016) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District staff finalized a standard operating procedure (SOP) for evaluating permit applications along the Sabine-Neches Waterway (SNWW) yesterday.

According to Kimberly Baggette, chief of the USACE Galveston District’s Regulatory Division, the request to establish a SOP for evaluating permit applications along the SNWW was initiated by experts from the United States Coast Guard, Sabine-Neches Navigation District, Sabine Pilots Association, Texas Department of Transportation and the USACE Galveston District’s resident experts. The SOP established both a standard setback as well as hazard zones designed to ensure that no structures or fill would encroach on the federal navigation channel.

Staff identifies the standard setback as the distance that a structure must be “set back” from the edge of the channel to ensure there are no encroachments in the navigable channel to support safe transportation and maintain sufficient clearance for dredging the channel. Hazard zones are areas shoreward of the standard setback that are narrow where structures or fill would have a higher probability of interfering with navigation.

“With increased development along the SNWW, it is imperative that we develop a predictable and repeatable policy for authorizing structures along the SNWW to maintain the compatibility of these important functions,” said Baggette. “To do this, we established setbacks from the SNWW channel where structures could be placed without interfering with navigation on the SNWW and identified areas of concern where a heightened permit evaluation was necessary.”

Baggette stated that the proposed policy is not designed to dissuade or impede construction along the SNWW and that staff won’t be issuing letters of non-compliance to any structure constructed inside the setback that are in compliance with an authorized permit (permitted prior to the proposed changes).

For more information about the district’s permitting process, visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/BusinessWithUs/Regulatory.aspx. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.


Mega study aims to protect Texas Coast against super storm

Joint USACE-GLO comprehensive study considering a multitude of factors including impacts on environment, workforce, homes, and more

GALVESTON, Texas (April 7, 2016) ­– Protecting the Texas coast from natural and manmade disasters continues to make headlines in local papers as various agencies and organizations seek to find solutions to this complex issue – solutions the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, along with its partner, the Texas General Land Office, are working to identify in the ongoing Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study.

Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander, acknowledged the magnitude of this undertaking and expressed appreciation for the supportive partnerships involved in the joint effort.

“The Coastal Texas study is one of the largest and most complex studies in the nation,” said Pannell. “This study will evaluate an array of alternatives designed to reduce risks associated with hurricanes and storm surge from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande. Not only will this effort determine engineering requirements and analyze economic factors, the study will also ensure that the project meets federal environmental standards. The result of the study will be an implementable project that has been coordinated with resource agencies, meets federal guidelines and is ready for Congressional authorization. The success of this study hinges on effective collaboration with our partners at the state and local level. We are very fortunate to be working hand-in-hand with the Texas General Land Office as our cost sharing partner.”

Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush expressed urgency in identifying ways to reduce risks along the Texas coast and to ensure the continued success of key infrastructure that contributes to the nation’s economy and quality of life.

“Millions of Texans live and work along the Texas coast and the time has come to get serious about investing in its protection,” said Bush. “By working together as a region – combining and coordinating local, state and federal resources – we will directly address ongoing threats to the Texas coast for future generations.”

Project Manager Sheri Willey, USACE Galveston District, explained that the comprehensive feasibility study, which aims to objectively identify strengths and weaknesses of proposed plans as well as opportunities and threats to the environment and economy, will employ a benefit-to-cost ratio approach to determine if a plan is worth pursuing and will rely on input from surrounding communities.

“We continue to gather feedback from residents that will help us identify coastal storm risk management and ecosystem restoration problems and opportunities along the Texas coast,” said Willey. “These public scoping meetings were part of our Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Reconnaissance Study.

According to Willey, Congress granted an exemption to allow the $19.8 million, 5.5-year feasibility study to proceed due to the great complexity and national importance of the Texas Gulf Coast. The Texas GLO is providing 50 percent of cost of the study.

Willey went on to explain that several coastal protection options, including the coastal spine and inland barrier structures were presented to the Texas Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Coastal Barrier Systems during a public hearing in August 2014 and will be reviewed again April 11, 2016 during a similar session.

“While these proposals should be considered in-depth, the most effective way to determine the most beneficial long-term solutions for protecting the Galveston Bay area is to partner with agencies and stakeholders in a comprehensive study to consider all factors,” said Willey. “The comprehensive feasibility study will identify a variety of critical considerations including potential shoreline degradation, storm damage risk reduction, environmental restoration and protection as well as related improvements along the Texas Gulf Coast to ensure that preservation of the Texas coastal region is balanced with the growth and needs of industries that fuel commerce and power the nation.”

Pannell added that the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study will leverage existing information and data that has been developed following recent hurricanes by numerous stakeholders such as Texas A&M at Galveston, the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center based at Rice University as well as studies by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District and Texas GLO on critical infrastructure and environmental resource opportunities.

For more news and information about the Texas coast, visit the USACE Galveston District website at http://www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.

For more information about the Texas GLO please visit www.txglo.com. You can also follow the GLO on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/txglo or Twitter https://twitter.com/txglo.


The official U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division publication