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Galveston Island's West End Threatened By Erosion

Photo by KUT News
The west coast of Galveston is eroding while the east coast remains resilient.

Researchers at Rice University say urban development in Galveston Island should be more focused towards its east end. The island's length, width, and thickness sets a far stronger foundation in the long run than its west coast, according to the study, which was funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability.

"The west end of the island is low, and that makes it more susceptible to storm surge and breaching,"  Rice University oceanography professor John Anderson said. "It's also experiencing erosion rates of three to five feet a year, and during major storms those rates can easily be ten times that amount in a single event."

"To add to that, there really is no new sand being brought into the island. That spells out a future of erosion. The west end is certainly not sustainable in the long run," Anderson said. 

The last two companies that made city designs for the west end went bankrupt before they could actually develop land.

Researchers at Rice do not want to convey the message that the west end of the island is doomed. Anderson claimed that the current population could easily stay sustained as long as no more than two Category Four hurricanes hit Galveston in a single season.

For more information, download the report or check out this video from Rice University: