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How Dredge Material Restored Galveston Bay Marshes

December 17, 2020

Mike Hasen

Michael Hasen

Executive Vice President

You’ve heard the saying, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” For example, dredging created the 52-mile long deep-water ship channel which turned Houston into an economic powerhouse, exporting vast amounts of oil, rice, cotton, and other commodities.

Over time, vital wetlands surrounding Galveston Bay became diminished. These marshes provide a home for much of the birds and marine life in the area, and Port Houston grew concerned about the resulting environmental impact. By 1992 they turned to HVJ with a request to explore ways of mitigating the damage and restoring lost habitats.

This work has been the most challenging and rewarding of my career. We had to determine how to evaluate the settlement of muddy water. The target elevation for successful marsh habitat is only 6 inches wide – too low and the marsh is under water, too high and it is no longer accessible to marine life such as fish and shrimp. We’ve demonstrated our ability to successfully design marshes for over 25 years.

The advantage of this discovery became even more pertinent when Port Houston needed to expand its shipping channel to accommodate the arrival of the “Neo Panamax” ships from the Panama Canal. These ships can reach lengths of 1,200 feet long with the capacity for up to 14,000 containers.

 With the expertise gained through years of innovation and the extra dredge material available from the expansion of the ship channel, HVJ has been able to create over 1000 acres of new wetland locations. This proud achievement will create new habitat for the rich wildlife that forms part of the core ecosystem in Galveston Bay.

 Read more about the project here.

 

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