Published on February 18, 2020

A river runs through it; San Bernard, meet the Gulf

San Bernard getting close to receiving much-needed help

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

This column remembers Feb. 22, 2009, a day for the history books for those who live along or have an interest in the San Bernard River. At 2:12 p.m., the waters of the Gulf reached out to the San Bernard River and joined once again at its traditional mouth.

More than 125 people of the river community had gathered on the beach to witness the fruit of their labor to re-open the mouth of the river.

But the event, much like the entire project, encountered a glitch at the last minute. Dredge 32 had broken a thrust bearing around 1 p.m., and that would have to be fixed before they could open the river. That would take 24–36 hours.

But, thanks to Mike Kearns and the rest of the crew of Dredge 32 (owned by Mike Hooks, Inc.), with the support of the Galveston District Corps of Engineers, two bulldozers opened a path from the Gulf into the San Bernard. The river’s date with destiny would not be denied.

The dozers opened the sand, one bladeful at a time until the water trickled – then flowed into the San Bernard. Witnesses of the event became active participants, celebrating, patting each other on the back, kissing, hugging, and cheering.

Dredge 32 blew its horn. There was not a dry eye on the beach. A dream came true for a diversified community of friends who had worked for this day for so long.

It did not matter if you were the Corps of Engineers; people who live and play on the San Bernard; local, state or federal politicians; the press; local, state or federal agencies; or the youngest child on the beach – the day belonged to you and the river, and it was a good day in the neighborhood! Thanks go out to all of us who contributed to this day.

When I wrote this, the opening of the mouth was the cause of celebration for a community who held the singing river in their hearts. Eleven years later, her mouth has again sanded completely shut, only to be forcibly opened by the rainfall of hurricane Harvey.

For a second time, her voice has been silenced by the sands of time and the community that loves her must once again pull together to help her find that voice or lose it forever.

Brazoria County Commissioner’s Court took the lead. With the help of Dannenbaum Engineering, they applied for and received a R.E.S.T.O.R.E. Act grant to re-open the mouth of the San Bernard River and keep it open.

The grant was awarded to Brazoria County from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in August of 2019.

We are down to the last item – the permit for the project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Brazoria County, assisted by Dannenbaum Engineering and Berg-Oliver, the environmental consultant, continues to work closely with the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve the few remaining permit concerns. The county hopes to have the final permit in early 2020 and start construction later in the year.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)