Cooperatove Conservation Project
COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION CASE STUDY

Neches River Saltwater Barrier

Protecting the Freshwater Supply of Southeast Texas

Location: South-Central/South-West Region: Texas

Project Summary: The project insures freshwater availability for municipal, agricultural and industrial uses as well as providing for fish and wildlife habitat protection.
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Photo by Scott Hall, Chief of Operations, Lower Neches Valley Authority
Resource Challenge

Resource challenges included water supply, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat protection and preservation.  The Neches River is especially vulnerable to taking on saltwater during times of low river flow or drought.  Annual dry spells in Texas result in reduced flows down the Neches River allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to make its way upstream. Prior to project implementation, the LNVA constructed temporary steel sheet pile saltwater barriers and depended upon the Sam Rayburn Reservoir to send freshwater downstream to keep the saltwater at bay.

 

Those old temporary barriers, located within the Big Thicket National Preserve, had many problems.  Construction of access roads to install and remove the temporary barriers, erosion at the shoreline caused by the temporary barriers, pollution, disruption of the migration of fish, obstruction to navigation and blocking anglers and pleasure boats as well as the one million dollar per installation price tag resulted in the need for a permanent gated structure.

Examples of Key Partners

The US Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, and their cost sharing partner, the Lower Neches Valley Authority, along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Big Thicket National Preserve, the City of Beaumont, the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and many others

came together for this project.

Results and Accomplishments

The Neches River Saltwater Barrier has provided numerous benefits for the citizens, industry, and environment in and around the City of Beaumont .  Imbedded within the project design were environmental education and recreational considerations for the public.  The public boat ramp, public restrooms, picnic area, walking trail, and stocked fishing ponds provides the public world class facilities as well as increased access to the Neches River and the Big Thicket National Preserve.

 

Aside from protecting the freshwater supply of Southeast Texas , the project provides for savings of 200,000 acre-feet per year of water, the size of an average reservoir, that does not have to be released from Sam Rayburn reservoir to control the saltwater, all of this while still insuring adequate freshwater inflows into the bays and estuaries.

Innovation/Highlight

With the permanent saltwater barrier in place, not only are the temporary barriers no longer necessary, but also over 200,000 acre-feet per year of freshwater is able to be conserved upstream in Sam Rayburn Reservior.

Project Contact
Robert Stroder
General Manager
Lower Neches Valley Authority
7850 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77708-2815
409-892-4011
roberts@lnva.dst.tx.us
Richard Tomlinson
Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston
2000 Fort Point Road
Galveston, TX 77553-1228
409-766-3917
richard.tomlinson@usace.army.mil
Website: http://www.lnva.dst.tx.us/

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