Harris County Commissioners Court recently approved a measure to improve security for the Houston Ship Channel with the creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District. It will be a public-private partnership that will fund enhancements to security technology, infrastructure and processes along the ship channel.

With about $31.3 million in grants under the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program, Harris County plans to design and construct a portwide security system for the Houston Ship Channel area.

Included will be a communications network encompassing the ship channel and linking the Port of Houston Authority’s video data and communications systems with the portwide security infrastructure system being constructed by Harris County. As part of the Security Project, the county has requested that PHA enter into an interlocal agreement with it to permit the county to place certain security towers, poles and related security equipment on mutually agreed-on locations at PHA facilities.

It will also assist PHA in interconnecting and enhancing its video data link for PHA facilities and would provide that Harris County allow PHA to share in its fiber conduit alongside Barbours Cut Boulevard. The interlocal agreement coincides with the creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District this summer by the Harris County Commissioners Court.

Although primarily intended to deter terrorism, the security district will deter theft and other security and safety issues. The improved processes and technology as well as additional personnel and equipment to be applied during events such as hurricanes, evacuations or plant upsets. Plans will mitigate disruptions and help members recover and restore normal operations more quickly, according to district organizers.

The security district includes the Port of Houston and more than 100 refinery, chemical and marine facilities, which will pay operations and maintenance assessments to the district.

The district will be governed by a board of directors to be elected by security district members. At least eight directors from private industry will be selected to represent the district’s security zones. Three other directors will include a representative of the port authority, a director appointed by the county, and a director appointed by the Harris County Mayors and Council Association. A steering committee representative of the partners involved in creating the security district will plan election details.