Galveston Avoids Politics To Fight Climate Change

The city has launched a pilot program to fight sand buildup caused by rising sea levels and increased rainfall.

By Lila WeatherlyJune 19, 2017 12:51 pm

As sea levels and heavy rains increase, coastal cities are looking to new technologies for relief from street flooding.

Galveston has launched a pilot program implementing technologies from Sweden to help alleviate blockage in its drainage systems, and keep the island’s homes and vehicles safe.

While the politics of climate change still remain somewhat contiguous to programs aimed at combatting its impact — particularly in Texas towns — Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell says the cause doesn’t change the fact that a solution is needed.

“We can all sit and argue and debate what’s causing it, but I don’t think anybody that lives here on the Texas coast can dispute the fact that we’re experiencing some sea rise,” Maxwell says. “Now whether that’s subsidence on the island’s part or the actual rise of the water, we can debate that, but we are definitely experiencing those conditions here on the Texas coast.”

He says high sea levels and heavy rains are exacerbating a normal byproduct of interaction with coastal cities: humans covered in sand.

“Go to the beach and even if you run out into the water, when you get back on shore you’re full of sand,” Maxwell says. “And that siltation is migrating into our drainage system.”

The city is deploying vacuum trucks to try and suck out the debris washed into the drainage system, which is cemented there by layers of sand.

Maxwell says while there are “always going to be politics involved with [climate change],” city officials want to make sure Galveston is prepared to solve the climate-related problems that are arising.

“We’re dealing with the symptoms of whatever climate change is occurring and however it’s occurring, and we’re going to treat those symptoms,” Maxwell says. “As far as our residents, I believe they understand the situation. We have a great group of folks that live here on the island and some people just think it’s the price of living in paradise, and I tend to agree.”