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Study Recommends Abandoning West Galveston island

A study by scientists at Rice University says Galveston officials should seriously consider abandoning the west end of the island — and retreating to the area behind the seawall to avoid being swamped by rising seas.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

The study says Galveston’s west end coastline is retreating at 3 to 6 feet per year, the fastest rate of erosion in 6,000 years. It says rising sea level could double or triple the rate of erosion over the remainder of the century.

The authors say the west end of the island — which is only inches above mean sea level —  is eroding so fast and is so vulnerable to storms it should be abandoned for the eastern end behind the seawall, the highest part of the island.

They say Galveston officials should focus on a now undeveloped area that’s used for dredge spoilage, known as the East End Flats. It  could be developed to offset the population loss on the west end, and the depopulated west end could be developed for ecotourism.

They say this “de-population” of the west end could be done in an orderly fashion over a long period of time by not allowing new construction and prohibiting the rebuilding of storm damaged structures.

Or they can wait for a catastrophic hurricane to do the job for them quickly.  That’s always a possibility.

via Galveston Island gets tough advice from Rice study – Houston Chronicle.

You can download the entire study in a PDF format in a link on their website.

via Atlas of Sustainable Strategies for Galveston Island by Christopher Hight, Michael Robinson, John Anderson, Davin Wallace, Rice School of Architecture, Shell Center for Sustainability in Education & Language.

The authors admit their recommendations won’t go over very well, and they won’t cause any immediate changes in Galveston policy. They say their goal is to publish the study and get this information out there.

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