District conducts pre-hurricane surveys of Texas coast waterways

Published May 6, 2015
GALVESTON, Texas (May 6, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District is expected to finish its annual pre-hurricane survey of its navigation projects located along the Texas coast in late May; a process that provides the district with data to establish baseline conditions of all 1,000 miles of channels located within its area of operation.

“This significant effort provides us with essential data that we can use to compare channel conditions pre and post storm to determine if shoaling occurred and subsequently request supplemental funding to clear these shoaled channels,” said Terrell Smith, hydrographic survey coordinator with the USACE Galveston District. “Hydrographic surveying also assists us in creating plans and specifications for channel improvements.”

The USACE Galveston District begins the three-month surveying project March 1 of each year to ensure ample time to complete the surveys prior to the beginning of the June 1 Atlantic hurricane season.

“We work on several projects simultaneously but sometimes are temporarily reassigned to jobs that take priority over the pre-hurricane survey mission,” said Smith. “If a ship collision occurs, we survey those waterways to ensure that nothing is left in the channel (such as an anchor) that could cause an obstruction and pose a safety hazard for waterborne vessels in transit.”

Smith explains that he’s able to gather this data using multibeam sonar technology, which uses sound waves to find and identify objects in the water and to determine water depth.

“These multibeam systems are placed on three of our boats to survey the channels,” said Smith. “Using a fan-like sound scanning system, we will have the capability to identify shoaling areas and objects in channels along the Texas coast, which will help in fulfilling our mission of keeping waterways open for navigation.”

According to Smith, the district’s Rio Grande Valley Office is preparing to use an alternate method of capturing data that he hopes to soon put into practice along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to improve efficiency and optimize the life expectancy of the equipment.

“We installed a sweep system on one vessel to allow us to run longitudinal lines and cover a wider area with this type of system,” Smith said. “Survey lines will be designed to run along the channels instead of back and forth across the channel to improve coverage of each survey line and reduce wear and tear on the vessels. Initially, it will take more effort to process the data, but we will gain overall efficiencies.”

The survey data will be made available online at http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation.aspx. For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.

Release no. 15-024