Economic impact of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway system in Texas.




Garrett, H.
Burke, D.

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Texas A&M University Sea Grant.


The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway System in Texas carried almost 73 million tons of commodities valued at over $21 billion in 1986. The total revenue directly attributable to the GIWW was conservatively estimated at $3.1 billion in this same year. Port revenues accounted for 47% of this total; the payrolls and revenues of the water transportation industries comprised 52%; the remainder was derived from maintenance expenditures on the waterway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. About 110,000 jobs in the State of Texas are either directly or indirectly related to the shipment of goods through the Port of Houston alone. In 1986, 31% of all goods which moved through the Port of Houston travelled via the inland waterway system. Almost 20,000 Texans were employed directly by the water transportation industries. Coastal mining and manufacturng firms, which are heavily dependent on low-cost water transportation, has almost 127,000 employees on their payrolls in 1986. Sport and commercial fishing, and recreational activities created over 48,000 jobs state-wide; contributing up to $675 million in State personal income in 1986. The value of payrolls and expenditures of the chemical, petroleum refining, oil and gas extraction, and non-metallic mineral industries located in the coastal region has an important economic impact on the State. These four industries combined produced an impact of almost $37 billion in 1986, not including over $400 million collected in tax revenues. Preserving these economic benefits to Texas and the nation should be one of the State's highest priorities. Continued maintenance and support of the GIWW in Texas are necessary to assure that the waterway remains a viable, productive mode of low-cost transportation for the many essential goods imported to and exported from Texas. Regrettably, uncontrollable forces of nature stand poised to diminish the economic capacity of the waterway. These forces take the seemingly benign form of softly breaking waves and gradual coastal subsidence, which combine to create severe erosion problems along the coastal region, seriously jeopardizing the future productivity of the GIWW. Action should be taken immediately to ameliorate these threatening conditions. A lack of sites to receive dredged materials also poses a dilemma. Funding for waterway improvements has not been able to keep pace with needs in past years. Texans should be made aware that should the waterway become inoperable, it would have deleterious effects on the future economic prosperity of the entire State of Texas, not just the coastal region. Water transportation will continue to play a vital role in the State's future economic well-being. How that role is defined and expanded is a matter of concern to all Texans. It is hoped that this report will enlighten those who have previously underestimated its significance.


70 p.


economic analysis, economics