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Galveston County
Rollover Pass Dredging Study
News Release
Monday, February 03, 2014

Study Refutes Texas General Land Office Claims
Regarding Dredging Costs Associated with Rollover Pass

Report shows false data utilized to support claims of financial savings

The Gilchrist Community Association (GCA) and the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel and Gun Club (the Club) today released a study that refutes claims by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) that Rollover Pass remaining open causes $1 million per year in additional dredging costs.  That figure is based on an analysis by Jacksonville, Florida-based Taylor Engineering that was accepted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in findings associated with the issuance of a permit for the GLO to close Rollover Pass.

In the study released today, Larry Dunbar, a hydrologist and registered Professional Engineer, determined that when sediment sampling data developed by the Corps of Engineers’ Research Center is used, Rollover Pass contributes only a small amount of additional sediment to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW).  Rather than the million dollars per year claimed by the Galveston District Corps of Engineers using Taylor Engineering’s analysis, Dunbar’s calculations show that only $40,000 to $60,000 per year of dredging cost is actually related to Rollover Pass.

Dunbar’s study documents that Taylor Engineering selected certain documents to obtain certain figures and then disregarded other conclusions in those documents that ran counter to the conclusion that Taylor set forth.  Of particular concern is critical information prepared by the Corps of Engineers’ Research Center that was omitted from the Taylor Engineering study.  This Corps’ document clearly concludes that Rollover Pass provides only a marginal increase in dredging costs.  In addition to ignoring this Corps’ report, Taylor Engineering used certain data from certain studies yet ignored either qualifying language in those study reports or failed to consider conclusions in these reports that were contrary to their findings.

“It looks to me like Taylor Engineering has once again failed to utilize good engineering practice in determining the amount of additional dredging attributable to Rollover Pass” said Jim Blackburn, attorney for GCI and the Club.  “We have already documented how Taylor Engineering omitted key information from a computer model of the salinity of East Bay associated with the closure of Rollover Pass, and now we have found, once again, that Taylor Engineering has made a major error and/or omission in determining the additional dredging due to Rollover Pass and the additional costs”.

Again according to Blackburn, “The GLO went out of state to hire this consulting firm that has produced at least two reports that are highly questionable.  The question is begged as to what is motivating the GLO in its attempt to eliminate this wonderful public fishing and recreational resource.  We are beyond simple error.”

Dunbar’s report goes into detail to identify the basis for Taylor Engineering’s conclusions regarding the additional dredging amounts and then tracks down the actual findings of the cited documents.  Taylor Engineering’s study found that between 80,000 and 290,000 cubic yards of additional dredge material in the Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) were associated with the operation of the Pass, but they failed to report that the source of this estimate – a 1989 study by Bales and Holley – simply “assumed” that additional dredging amount was due to the Pass, knowing there was no real evidence to support it.  A more recent study of the impact of Rollover Pass in 2000 by the Corps of Engineers’ Resesarch Center in Louisiana stated that only about 15,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Pass was ending up in the GIWW.  According to Dunbar’s report, this figure of 15,000 cubic yards compares favorably with beach erosion studies that also identify about 15,000 cubic yards of erosion that are associated with the operation of the Pass, as well as a later 2006 study cited by Taylor Engineering.

“We are amazed at what the GLO’s consultant has done – or failed to
do”, said Ted Vega, President of GCA.  “All any of us want is a fair analysis, but that is not what was prepared by the GLO.  It seems as if they have once again ‘cooked the books’ to make a study come out a certain way.  We just don’t understand why they are doing it.”

This report by Dunbar is the second reporting on abnormalities in work prepared for the GLO by Taylor Engineering.  Earlier, GCI and the Club released a study identifying significant errors and omissions in salinity modeling of East Bay that found that no ecological harm would result from the closing of Rollover Pass which is the exact opposite of the conclusion that results from utilization of the official State of Texas hydrologic model for East Bay. 

According to Blackburn, “On January 31, we amended our federal lawsuit to bring these serious misrepresentations to the attention of the court.  Among other things, our amended lawsuit alleges that the General Land Office has violated the public trust doctrine in its actions relative to East Bay.  This doctrine applies to State officials with jurisdiction over State resources.   The actions of the GLO should not be tolerated.  What they are doing is just wrong.”

HomeTown Bank Ocean Star
Remembering Jim Guidry

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