Published on August 24, 2021

The lowdown on what’s happening at the San Bernard

By Janice R. Edwards
The Bulletin

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about dredging open the mouth of the San Bernard River floating around between gossip, social media, and other sources.

If you have been in southern Brazoria County since about 2004, you probably know that project has captured the hearts of my husband, Roy, and myself.

We have been following the mouth of the river and doing research since 2004.

I’d like to take this column to give you some information vetted through County Commissioners Dude Payne and David Linder as well as Dan Garza, the Project Manager for the Construction Engineering and Inspection services for HDR Engineering, the independent engineering company overseeing this project for Brazoria County. I might not give you all the information you want to know, but I will cover things that I have seen that jump out at me.

First, this project is not funded by tax dollars. It is funded by the RESTORE Act funds (federal money), which were generated by British Petroleum fines and penalties for the Deep-Water Horizon disaster. Thank our County Commissioners for staying with the years of jumping through the hoops to get this process started.

The contractor who won the bid to do this project is Rigid Constructors. There is only one dredge working this project. The Port of Freeport is not providing this dredge, nor will it be providing the dredge for subsequent dredging.

The Port of Freeport is the financial partner with Brazoria County to do future dredging projects to open the mouth of the San Bernard when necessary for another 25 years.

No, they are not putting in a jetty. Putting in a jetty might slow down when the mouth would need to be dredged – but it would not stop it. Since the mouth of the Brazos was moved from 11 miles from the mouth of the San Bernard to within 4 miles (in 1929), the flow of the San Bernard cannot overcome the sand coming from the Brazos. The jetty is cost prohibitive, estimated to be $87 million for both sides, and the mouth would still have to be dredged open at regular intervals.

As of Aug. 6, Rigid Constructors had: Mobilized equipment to the site (100% complete); Started the clearing and grubbing of the site (25% complete); Received and fused 2,500 linear feet of HOPE pipe (25% complete). Those efforts continue. The clearing and grubbing of the site need to be complete before the dredging begins. The anticipated start was two to three weeks, but had yet to be determined.

The dredging started Friday, Aug. 13, but they had hydraulic and computer problems that brought the process to a temporary halt.

The mouth will be dredged open (and these are approximate figures) 100 feet wide and 11 feet deep with a 3 to 1 slope. It will dredge 1,600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico from the shoreline.

Well, that’s all I can think of to tell you right now. If you are fishing or boating in the area, please stay clear of the dredge, pipes, markers and work boats until this job is complete. Let’s all be safe and get this long-awaited job completed as quickly as possible, and on a positive note.

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