Sunday, August 12, 2007

Texas island is shrinking, sinking

Galveston County Daily News: Galveston City Council got a scientific glimpse into the island’s future Thursday. It wasn’t a pretty picture. John Anderson, the Rice University coastal geologist who helped author an unofficial geohazard study for the city in 2004, gave the council an overview of his new book, “The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast.”

Flipping through pictures of houses with water lapping around their pilings and roads to the beach that now go nowhere, Anderson told the city’s elected officials they needed to prepare for shoreline change they could not stop. “We live in a very vulnerable environment,” he said. “We’re basically shrinking and sinking.”

... If the council does approve wetlands development regulations, it would be the first city governing body in Texas to do so, said Councilwoman Dianna Puccetti. “I’ve already gotten several samples of wetland ordinances from around the country,” she said. “To my knowledge, there are no local wetlands protection ordinances in Texas. I think Galveston should step out in that area and also in the area of mitigation.”

…The two biggest problems — what Anderson’s colleague Jim Gibeaut called the island squeeze play — are rising sea levels and sinking sand. “Sea levels are going up faster globally, and this island is going down,” he said. “The Gulf Coast is showing the most sea level rise because of subsidence. Offshore oil and gas extraction has exasperated our problem. We have some issues we’re going to have to deal with.”...

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