Importance of Houston Ship Channel Highlighted

Port Commission Chairman of the Port of Houston Authority, Janiece Longoria, yesterday stressed the importance of restoring and improving the Houston Ship Channel due to its importance to the future of the Houston region, state and nation.

In comments to the Port Commission during its regular monthly meeting, she highlighted impacts of Hurricane Harvey and in her remarks stated that “We are in desperate need of additional relief to properly dredge the channel so that it can accommodate normal commerce at its authorized depth and width.“

Chairman Longoria presented satellite images of the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel taken days before and after the devastating rains inundated the Gulf Coast.

“The floodwater coming through our system deposited tons and tons of silt into the Houston Ship Channel and throughout Galveston Bay,” she said. “While the Channel is open and commerce is flowing with some restrictions, the Houston Ship Channel needs significant dredging to address these storm damages.”

Additional images presented during the meeting showed dramatic shoaling at the entrances of the port’s three major terminals.

“There has been ten feet of sediment collected as a result of massive amounts of floodwater that has carried this silt into the channel,” Chairman Longoria noted. “Again, this seriously restricts commerce to and from our facilities.”

Chairman Longoria and Executive Director Roger Guenther both stressed during the meeting that maintaining the Houston Ship Channel’s depth is critical to commerce.

A study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute determined that a loss of one foot of depth in the channel costs the U.S. economy as much as $281 million dollars per year.

The Chairman also stated that part of the channel’s recovery is to “harden this asset to make it better for the future,” which may include a channel that is deepened and widened.