INGLESIDE ON THE BAY – Last summer saw the worst flooding of Ingleside on the Bay (IOB) which is located on the southwest edge of Ingleside on the Corpus Christi Bay. The small community had water over roadways and even inside some businesses.

Patrick Nye decided something needed to be done to fight against the nuisance flooding and sea level rise and created the nonprofit organization Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association (IOBCWA).

Late last year, the organization launched a Sea Level Mitigation Project Feasibility Study performed by the consultant group Mott MacDonald. During the last commissioners court of 2019, IOBCWA President Nye and McDonald along with Principal Coastal Engineer Consultant in Corpus Christi Aaron Horine asked commissioners to contribute $20,000 from the county’s Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) fund to contribute to the project.

On Jan. 29, nearly 100 concerned citizens along with San Patricio County Judge David Krebs and County Commissioner Precinct 4 Howard Gillespie, who lives in the area, gathered at the Brass Turtle restaurant in IOB to hear about the results of the study.

“Our mission statement is to utilize engineering and scientific methodologies to determine long range impacts on our communities,” Nye said during the presentation.

More studies needed

He added that this is just one of the many studies that needs to be done in the area with an air and water quality study coming soon.

“Anybody who’s driven down the roads when we have the King Tides knows that we’re in trouble with the water coming up and it’s increasing all the time,” Nye continued. “And we’re also having subsidence (gradual sinking of land) and that’s a constant issue we’re facing.

“So what we’re looking at is the sea level impact, but we’re also going to have these extreme high water events, like King Tides, and we’re also going to have storms and wind driven waves. We’re going to have hurricanes and tropical storms and of course we’re going to have some deepening of the channel and we may get some different displacement numbers as we go through time.

“So we have choices – we can do something or we can do nothing.”

MacDonald and Coastal Engineer IV Luis Maristany gave the presentation which guided the audience through every level of the Sea Level Mitigation Project Feasibility Study.

“We did a very thorough analysis of the impacts from the static sea level rise and what that means for the community,” Maristany said. “And more importantly, what do we need to do? 

“We’re going to increase the resiliency of this community and find out what we need to do to respond to this flooding that’s going to be getting worse as time progresses.”

He went to explain that relative sea level rise is composed of multiple factors. The first is that the actual sea level is rising. The second is subsistence, which happens to be pretty high in the area, and is why the sea level rise is relative, the sinking of the land contributes to that. 

Affect on sea levels

Global glacial melt and sea temperatures also affects the levels, along with local wind and tide events.

“Sea level rise is not a local problem,” Maristany added. “It’s a global problem.

“The impacts that we’re seeing – this flooding – is not contained just to IOB. This is also something that’s happening all over the Coastal Bend. 

“So the issues that we’re facing here are issues that many communities are going to be facing. So it’s good that we’re getting a head start here in this planning so that we can all unite as a community and do what needs to be done to address these issues.”

One of those issues that was highlighted first was the fact that the city’s bulkheads were built in 1972 and typically have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. As they’re reaching the end of their lifespan, they’re beginning to fail and sink, allowing water to spill over. The saltwater then corrodes the bulkhead ties which accelerates the failures.

Bayshore Drive is the street where the flooding is most prominent and where Ingleside Beach Club is located and was underwater last year. It sits on edge of the bay and suffers the most damage from King Tides and the rising sea level.

Drainage an issue

Maristany also pointed out that the city needs to deal with drainage issues as most of the pipes and ditches are now submerged and already have seawater in them or are clogged with wetland vegetation.

“So what are the alternatives?” Maristany asked. “For shoreline protection, where you have exposed shorelines, you can build a revetment. We’ve got the living shoreline alternative, which is a combination of a hardened structure and vegetation and those options tend to be beneficial for sea level rise because vegetation can migrate upward with the sea level. Vegetation also creates a buffer from waves during a storm so there’s some adaptation to it.

“Next, we have one of the main options, and because a lot of the shoreline here is bulkheads, this is one that everybody should pay attention to — replacing the bulkheads and raising them. So basically you take the existing bulkhead and you pull them out, or you take a new bulkhead and put it in front of the old one and you build it up at a higher elevation.”

He added that there also needs to be a plan for the lifespan of the bulkhead and sea level rise.

Study offers solutions

What the study concluded and MacDonald suggested was to raise properties, raise the roadways, replace the bulkheads and fix the drainage issues.

Possibly the biggest question on everyone mind’s that night  — who is going to pay for all of this?

The IOBCWA is currently looking at several state and local grants to fund all the work needed. While it may sound simple enough, it will take a lot of planning and time, which IOB is running out of.

“The study is the first step in developing the solution to help drain the water out and keep the sea water from getting in,” Maristany  continued. “After that, would be evaluating these alternatives, kind of really drilling down and evaluating the conditions of all the properties, getting boots on the ground and coming up with a more refined cost benefits.

“Then perform a cost benefit analysis and also collaborate with the community so part of that cost benefit analysis would be what you want, relative to what needs to be done to keep everybody as happy as possible. 

“And finally, continue to identify and apply for potential funding and get the community involved.

“This is the first step, getting everybody here.

“Keeping everybody involved in this is the most important part because you have the power – together – to reach out to your local government, reach out to the state government and put that pressure in and reach out to other communities experiencing these same problems.

“Together you have more power to be able to get the funding that’s needed and get everybody’s attention to the issues at hand so that we can implement what needs to be done.”

For more information and how residents can help visit iobcwa.org.