'Ike Dike' plan stalls in Harris County

January 12, 2010 4:51:06 PM PST
We don't know when, but someday another hurricane will come to our coast. Even so, a plan to look at storm surge solutions for the Texas gulf coast seems stalled. It is an ambitious idea -- raise up the earth high enough and strong enough to turn back storms. The idea of dikes or levees along the coast came up soon after Ike hit, but now are hitting snags.

For months, we've been telling you about the 'Ike Dike.' We even went to the Netherlands to see the system they installed to keep the North Sea at bay years ago.

One idea here is a series of coastal levees and a massive flood gate to turn back coastal surge.

"We've got to do something to look at all the options," said Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. "This study is, is it a viable option or not?"

Five coastal counties approved that plan to answer that question with a study. The Texas governor's office is apparently ready to fund it once Harris County joins in, but...

"Blame it on me," said Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack.

After two appearances on the county court agenda, Harris County just won't join the study group.

"I don't have a problem with people dreaming," said Radack. "I just don't want them doing it with Harris County taxpayer money."

Commissioner Radack is concerned that the study group's rules could commit county taxpayers to pay for construction once the study is done. And it's a problem for Judge Ed Emmett, too, who wants it fixed.

"We want to study storm surge as best we can and there are a lot of different ideas about the way to do it," said Emmett.

Emmett and Radack pledged to work with Commissioner Sylvia Garcia and the county attorney to get it all worked out, so Harris County can join in two weeks from now, even if there is still a lot of doubt whether it could work.

"Can you spend enough money to stop nature from creating a hurricane and coming into this area?" asked Radack. "Can you build something that would really make a significant difference?"

It will likely be on the agenda again in two weeks when Commissioner Garcia hopes the county attorney will have the problems worked out.