SAN PATRICIO COUNTY – Even though the small corners of the county like Ingleside on the Bay (IOB) rarely show up on commissioner court agendas or create much noise, when they do call out their voice is just as loud as its sister cities.
And this call is one that IOB citizens consider to be of major importance with commissioners and county officials alike.
In October 2019 the Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association (IOBCWA) had its first meeting where 14 people joined. The nonprofit organization was begun as a group of concerned IOB citizens who are taking action to mitigate negative effects on their bayfront community due to rising sea levels, larger and more frequent ship traffic and rapid industrialization.
The IOBCWA has now launched a Sea Level Mitigation Project Feasibility Study being performed by the consultant group Mott MacDonald. At Monday’s commissioners court hearing, the IOBCWA President Patrick Nye and Mott McDonald Principal Coastal Engineer Consultant in Corpus Christi Aaron Horine asked the court to contribute $20,000 from the county’s Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) fund to contribute to the project.
“We have had issues with sea level rise and with nuisance flooding over the last many years and now it’s getting worse with the sea level coming up,” Nye said. “With the deepening and widening of the harbors, it’s going to cause some additional issues with the ship traffic, on top of the flooding, so we’re going to have more flooding that is inundating not only Ingleside on the Bay, but other coastal communities as well.
Horine explained that GOMESA funds coastal counties receive is based off of lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico for oil exploration. He added that about two years ago there was a huge rush of activity and, according to San Patricio County Auditor David Wendel, the SPC GOMESA fund has been in excess of $200,000 since.
“It’s supposed to be used for coastal restoration and any sort of cultural resiliency,” Horine added. “This is an excellent use for it and then in terms of making use of those funds in the future, we’re also talking about doing a countywide coastal study.”
The $20,000 is the most the nonprofit organization has received thus far, as most of the funds have come from local citizens and other organizations that see the importance of studying the flooding issue.
Horine said that earlier this year, Mott MacDonald performed a passing vessel analysis with the Port of Corpus Christi for IOB where they looked at the large vessels coming into the port and the wakes they create and how they were impacting the shoreline.
He said as part of that study, they started looking at potential solutions for IOB. It then dovetailed to focusing even more on compartmentalizing the regions within IOB and developing some feasible options for each of those areas and looking at costs and potential funding mechanisms, where San Pat’s GOMESA funds come in handy once again.
The current Sea Level Mitigation Project Feasibility Study is looking to be completed in the next week or two with the results being delivered at a public meeting either at the Ingleside Beach Club or at City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the meeting and project, visit iobcwa.org.
“We’ve been working here in the region for over 15 years on many coastal projects for the Port of Corpus Christi,” Horine said. “We are also doing a resiliency project and overall project very similar to what we’re talking about doing for San Patricio County in Aransas County with the Aransas County Coastal Resiliency Initiative.
“It’s very similar because they’ve got about the same amount of shoreline and they’ve got a lot of projects where smaller counties just can’t come up with millions of dollars for funds to address these issues of relative sea level rise, erosion and then you add to the mix all the industry.”
Nye added, “We’re trying to find ways we can protect our community and Mott MacDonald has agreed to help us do this with this study.”
Paul Gonzales is the editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at mathisnews@mySouTex.com.