Take a Video Tour of the West Fork via Helicopter with the Army Corps

 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) hydraulic engineers conducted an aerial tour of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River aboard an Army Blackhawk helicopter. USACE Galveston’s hydraulic engineer Michael Garske narrates the video tour, which is fascinating for its candidness.


The tour’s objectives: to better understand the area’s dredging needs and to  scope out possible locations for storing the spoils.They identified numerous areas with excessive shoaling that contribute to area flooding and require dredging. Engineers estimate they will need to dredge from 1 to 3 million cubic yards.

Sand weighs about 100 pounds per cubic foot. So a cubic yard (27 cubic feet) would weigh almost a ton and a half. Three million cubic yards of sand would completely fill two and a half Astrodomes.

Results not yet final

So where would they put all this dredged material? Nothing is final yet. But it’s interesting to hear the engineers’ comments as they fly over random locations. See the video tour here.
According to reports from Harris County Flood Control, which is coordinating with USACE, the project is slated to start on June 8 and suppliers are being told they need to complete the project within a year.

Various Possible Scenarios Previously Examined

Here are some scenarios based on data from Brown & Root’s 2000 report on dredging, courtesy of David Seitzinger, a Kingwood engineer.  Seitzinger points out that Brown & Root also looked at dredging the West Fork. At the time, Brown & Root estimated that it would take 90 to 120 days to bid and mobilize the project. They estimated that one dredge could remove 5,000 cubic yards per day.

If that formula still holds true, a million cubic yards (the low end figure quoted by USACE) could be removed in 100 days using two dredges. If they need to remove 3 million cubic yards, two dredges would take 300 days.

Seitzinger looked at other options, too. Adding a third dredge cuts dredging time by a third – roughly two months to 200 days depending on volume removed.

Using 3 dredges could complete the project by mid-September – the peak of hurricane season – if they only need to remove 1 million cubic yards. That’s the best case scenario.

Worst case? Using two dredges to remove 3 million cubic yards would complete the project around the end of May in 2019.

Of course none of this considers weather stoppages for hurricanes and other flooding rains.  “Obviously the more dredges they can get in the river the better,” says Seitzinger.

The Army Corps plays a central role in many of the ongoing projects that affect Lake Houston. Please note the public-facing information sources that contain updates on their projects, including those in the Lake Houston area.

Online: www.swg.usace.army.mil
DVIDS: www.dvidshub.net/units/USACE-GD
Twitter: www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict

Posted May 5, 2018
248 Days since Hurricane Harvey