ClearWorld December 2017 - Page 13

The Galveston Bay Process

The submitting team was engaged with local hydrologists, ecologists, geologists, and a university architecture department to create environmental/social/economic inventories, regional site analysis, proposed planning recommendations, and site specific design interventions.

Team hydrologists initially provided revised storm models derived from advanced engineering technologies. The 25 ft. elevation was defined as the limit of the 1% storm event and elevations 0 to 5 ft. were found to be susceptible to frequent inundation. These parameters were used to create a layered approach that responded to 2010 census data, a projected doubling of regional population in 25 years, current land values, emergency service facilities, limited evacuation routes, toxic dispersal potential, natural barrier island migration patterns, public open spaces, primary ecosystems identified by regional, national, and international ecologists, and a published team research report analyzing 28 significant state, national, and international parks relative to their economic sustainability, population proximity, and annual visitorship.

Recommendation 2: Utilizing the Public Domain

Existing public lands can be used as a cost effective means for implementation. Rather than purchasing private property, structural solutions are designed to seamlessly occur within public rights of way already in need of infrastructure improvements. For example, the team’s largest structural intervention calls for elevating a portion of coastal Highway 146 to create a West Bay levee protecting large population centers and providing tidal marsh restoration opportunities.

South bay elevations from 0 to 5 ft. contain broad marshlands with considerable parcels under public ownership. This area’s unique biodiversity defines the bay’s established national and international ecotourism reputation. As a result, a major component of the project is the creation of a National Recreation Area (NRA) in this zone. Located within an hour drive of the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area, an organized framework plan with a sensitive footprint has immense potential. To date, this proposal has been adopted by an organized action committee and has and continues to gain the support with local Galveston Bay communities.

Recommendation 3: Economic Sustainability

Establishing an NRA will have considerable economic impact. Its designation would be an act of congress, require no tax money to create, and all participation would be voluntary. Harbinger Consulting Group estimates that after a decade the NRA would attract 1.5 million annual visitors, create 5,260 jobs, and generate $192 million. Its economic impact would quadruple after 10 yrs. and tourism would triple. The collaborative management structure of the NRA ensures that existing communities will be involved in its development and can profit from its formation.


Severe storms are a reality. Recent foreshadowing in Galveston Bay has resulted in a new discourse on its future. This project provides a diversity of pragmatic solutions that are gaining both political and community support in the region. Risk taking? The odds are not favorable.

Citizens become most valuable when these disasters occur. ClearWorld’s goal will continue to provide lighting in times of need with an off-grid stand-alone reliable light source that is maintained through most severe weather conditions.

Through the use of our cylindrical design, it is capable of withstanding 150 MPH winds, making it hurricane resistant. Because all components are installed at the top of the light pole, it is also flood resistant as well. A flood won’t affect your off grid power because it is so high off of the ground.

It is with these measures that ClearWorld makes energy-efficient living a possibility, even for those who experience tragic loss at the hands of natural disasters. By investing in solar energy, cities should continue to provide a safe environment for residents, even during the threat of flooding, severe storms, and wind damage.

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Coastal populations worldwide are playing a dangerous game. Frequent hazardous storms along coastlines are a given, and yet we continue to place our heads in the sand when considering the future. This submission focuses on an innovative project in Galveston Bay serving as a model for proactively solving coastal planning challenges. The summary below demonstrates how we can reconnect to these valued landscapes while providing storm protection, economic stimulus, environmental benefits, and sustainable coastal communities.

On September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike struck the Upper Texas Coast, wreaking havoc on infrastructure and washing away entire communities. Labeled as a category two storm by wind speed, Ike surpassed all inundation damage predictions and changed the lives of millions of people in the region. While devastating, the storm was a considerably smaller version of the modeled “worst case scenario” in which bay surge tracks up the densely populated west shore of Galveston Bay and into the heavily industrialized Houston Ship Channel.

Historically, the mitigation of coastal storms has focused on the use of intensive structural solutions — single-purpose engineered barriers designed to protect against often inadequately modeled storms. Once these engineering feats realize their massive physical form, the public develops an attitude of complacency and invincibility against storm events. They are “behind the wall”. The submitting team references this phenomenon as the “moral hazard” where a false sense of security results in more coastal development, subpar construction standards, inadequate policy, and greater public risk. As expected, shortly after Ike a proposal for a much longer, higher, wider, 100 mile long dike surfaced that would span and isolate all of Galveston Bay. Life defining interactions with the Gulf of Mexico would be severed and the cultural landscape destroyed not by nature, but ourselves.

Coastal Roulette: Planning Resilient Communities for Galveston Bay