EM 1110-2-1100 (Part V)
31 Jul 2003
(a) Both structural (earth levee, concrete floodwall) and nonstructural (permanent relocation and
evacuation) alternatives were studied in the early 1970s by the USACE to mitigate the flooding problem. The
feasibility study report to Congress (U.S. Army Engineer District, Galveston, 1975) recommended the retreat
alternative. Congress authorized this project under the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 1978).
(b) The final project report (U.S. Army Engineer District, Galveston, 1979) called for the Federal
government to purchase approximately 303.51 ha (750 acres), 448 homes and relocate 1,550 people within
the 50-year floodplain. Total project costs were .131 million (1979 dollars) with the local sponsors' share
to be 20 percent or .826 million. Annual project benefits were estimated to be .530 million and included:
Reductions for insurable flood damages.
Reductions for utility service costs.
Reductions of temporary, emergency evacuation, public health and public relief costs.
Value of land under new uses.
(c) Other benefits (constant anxiety from flood hazards, depressed property values, health hazards,
inconvenience of repetitive, temporary evacuations, and damages to real property and personal possessions)
cannot be included as net gain benefits to the national economy. Total, annual costs were .678 million
giving a benefit to cost (B/C) ratio of 1.3 to the Federal government for the retreat alternative. In contrast,
the structural alternative, B/C ratios were 0.1 - 0.3 (USAED, Galveston, 1979).
(d) In 1978, the environment assessment report to the EPA was approved. Plans called for converting
the land into a natural area, with possible development of nature areas, bird sanctuaries, green belts, wildlife
areas, nature walks, and other uses consistent with the high flood potential. Besides the local sponsor (City
of Baytown) paying 20 percent of the final cost, they were also responsible for management of the vacated
(e) Unfortunately, the project floundered on local disagreement over the value of the land to be
purchased and was never funded. Estimates of project costs rose from .980 million in 1975 to
.131 million in 1979 (less than 5 years). People in the community who did not live in the floodplain were
being asked to help buy out those who did. The community was divided over what the property was worth.
Some believed their neighbors would be paid far too much for relocation. In July 1979, a bond election was
held to provide the local funding for the project and it failed by a 60/40 percent margin (Pendergrass and
(f) In 1980, Congress was ready to authorize funding, but the local, 20 percent cost share could not be
provided. The local residents decided to stay and the Corps placed the project in its inactive category. In the
final analysis, the Corps' requirement for cost sharing (,589 per residence in 1975 and rising to ,469
per residence in 1979) prevented an economically viable and environmentally sound project from being
implemented. Because the B/C ratio was 1.3, the annual benefits to the Federal government exceeded the 20
percent, local cost share amount. In other words, the Federal government could have paid for the entire
project and still realized net economic benefits to the Federal government. This result also does not consider
NFIP payments then and over the last 20 years. Partial protection by the NFIP also contributed to the local
residents' decisions to stay.
(g) In summary, a nonstructural solution for part of the community of Baytown, Texas, proved difficult
to implement because the entire community would not share in the local cost requirement. In contrast, a flood
dike and revetment to protect the Texas City La Marque area on the lower Galveston bay has been
Shore Protection Projects