Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) commissioners, at their regular meeting Monday, Feb. 3, heard a report from Aransas County Project Manager John Strothman about FEMA Mitigation Projects involving ACND properties.
Strothman said Phase 1 of the Little Bay project has been approved - engineering for a circulation and shoreline erosion (in certain areas) study. The $1.2 million project includes a $395,000 ACND match, for which Strothman is tying to find funding.
He noted it has taken about 18 months to get to this point.
Mott MacDonald Engineering’s Aaron Horine said, “What we’ll probably find is Leggett and Blevins channels aren’t enough to handle the outflow (in a storm).”
“For this money you’re going to tell us we don’t have enough circulation?” asked Commissioner Tommy Moore.
Strothman asked, if circulation issues in Little Bay are solved, “Wouldn’t it handle (any water quality) issues?”
He noted FEMA hazard mitigation funding is designed to fund projects that will provide added protections during future storms.
“This isn’t like FEMA public assistance funding that only pays (to bring something back its pre-storm level),” said Strothman.
ACND Chairman Malcolm Dieckow reminded commissioners this is only Phase 1, and if it does not meet FEMA requirements, there won’t be a Phase 2.
“I believe the $1.2 million for this phase is way to much, but this is key to (getting the big money for construction),” said Harbor Master Keith Barrett.
Dieckow concurred, saying the ACND could have done its own study, but when it was all said and done, it would only have the study, and no way to obtain the additional construction dollars.
ACND Attorney Jerry Benadum said he applauds the effort to obtain the money, but said there is a legal issue with the Long Term Recovery Team (LTRT) not working with the ACND during this process – the entity, which has the land.
“I don’t want to stop progress, but don’t want this to (come back and haunt us),” said Benadum.
It was determined that at the appropriate time a Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities can be approved.
Strothman noted the ACND was not initially part of the Hazardous Mitigation Plan, and Dieckow said that issue is water under the bridge.
“When we (get into the plan) it (project) will be turned over to the ACND,” said Dieckow. “Personally, I’m glad we’re included in this. I recognize all the hard work y’all (LTRT) have done.”
Strothman again noted if there is better circulation in Little Bay (the end product of this project), it has to help water quality.
Dieckow said he is totally against more water being drained into Little Bay.
“That water needs to go to Aransas Bay,” he said.
Dieckow added he will never see the results of more drainage directed into Little Bay, but if more is drained into that relatively closed system, there will be signs that read, “Don’t get in the water,” or it’s going to be a mud flat.
“We need to figure out how to get water (draining) to Aransas Bay,” he said.
There was no action taken since it was a discussion item on the agenda.