May 21, 2016
Dear East Matagorda Bay Foundation (EMBF) members and interested parties:
Subject: New Potential Threat to East Matagorda Bay
Here we go again! Round 4(?) of the battle to defeat the Southwest Corner Cut in East Matagorda Bay.
EMBF Treasurer Ed Stavinoha was in attendance at the Matagorda County Drainage District #1 (M.C.D.D. #1) monthly board meeting on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Ed regularly attends these monthly meetings to monitor the progress (or lack thereof) of the dredging of the mouth of Caney Creek. To his surprise, agenda item #13 (appropriate) was:
“13. Consideration and possible action to authorize a letter of support from M.C.D.D. #1 to the TXDOT Maritime Division supporting the Port of Bay City Authority’s request that TXDOT evaluate a proposed project on FM 2031 to mitigate flooding issues across the roadway.”
Discussion ensued and the manager of M.C.D.D. #1, Barrett Franz, reported that he had taken an aerial tour of West and East Matagorda Bays, the Colorado River and Caney Creek in light of the recent heavy rains north of the area. No flooding was observed. The agenda item was tabled.
Later that afternoon, Ed reported this disturbing information to me.
The next morning, Wednesday, April 27th, I contacted Matagorda County Precinct 2 Commissioner Kent Pollard. He forwarded to me the attached email and 2 attachments. He also informed me that the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC), at their board meeting on Friday, April 29th, was to discuss and vote upon the following agenda item:
“5. New Business
a) Approval of a Letter of Support from MCEDC to the TXDOT Maritime Division supporting the Port of Bay City Authority’s request that TXDOT evaluate a proposed project on FM 2031 to mitigate flooding issues across the roadway.”
Commissioner Pollard was in attendance as an alternate for Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald who was out of the area and unable to attend the board meeting. Also in attendance were EMBF officers myself, President; E.J. Smith, Vice President and Ed Stavinoha, Treasurer.
Mike Griffith, Chairman of the Port of Bay City Authority (PBCA) spoke of the potential flooding on FM 2031 (Beach Road) and the port’s request to TXDOT. He acknowledged that the county had attempted this project in the past but the project was never constructed due to the lack of county funds to conduct studies as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) before the permit for the then referred to Southwest Corner Cut from East Matagorda Bay to the Colorado River (the Cut) would be approved. He went on to state that this time the Cut would not be funded by the county but by TXDOT who had more money to devote to the permitting and, if required by USACE, impact studies. Note that E.J. Smith pointed out that it is not TXDOT’s money but OUR money (the taxpayers). Treasurer Ed and I also spoke against the project (see attached The Bay City Tribune article).
A vote was taken and the Letter of Support was approved by a vote of 5 to 3. One of the votes against the letter was Commissioner Pollard.
Since these events of late April 2016, Treasurer Ed and I have made presentations to the Sargent Area Lions Club and the Sargent Area Chamber of Commerce. The word of this potential threat needs to be spread to the community.
Now for some editorial comments:
Why is the Port of Bay City chairman backing this project? Is it the mission of the PBCA to be concerned with “possible” flooding threats across a Texas Farm to Market road?
Why not just raise the roadbed rather than risk possible damage to the bay?
One of the main economic draws of Sargent is fishing. Due to the prevailing Southeast winds, water is moved to and stacked up against the West end of the bay. The bay is higher than the river. Punch a hole in the West end of the bay and water starts flowing to the river thus the potential exists, due to the prevailing winds, to potentially affect the water level in the East end of the bay which is not very deep to begin with. Affect the fishing in the Sargent area and the economics of the area could be affected.
The April rains to the north of Matagorda County (reportedly a 500 year rain event) caused portions of Wharton, which is located on the Colorado River, to be evacuated due to flooding on the river. Despite the increased flow of the river, no flooding or debris was reported on FM 2031 according to M.C.D.D. #1 or the precinct 2 commissioner.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Leave East Matagorda Bay alone!
The Sargent Lions Club Freedom Festival will be held on the Saturday, May 28, 2016 at the Caney Creek Estates Park and Pavilion. That is the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. The hours are from 9 AM to 3 PM. The proceeds from the Festival benefit Sargent area organizations. EMBF will have a booth at the event. I urge and encourage you to attend and stop by and visit with EMBF.
Sincerely and thank you for your time, John McLaughlin, President, EMBF