More Dredging Now Officially Included in Project List for Flood Bond

The Plea for DDG has paid off. More detention, dredging and gates are now all officially listed as projects for Harris County’s historic, $2,5 billion, flood-bond referendum. Why detention, dredging and gates? Less in. More through. Faster out. The flood mitigation trifecta.

Looking south toward King’s River Estates at the mouth bar blocking the West Fork. This bar is why we need more dredging. The Army Corps will not be removing it. However, it likely backs up water for several miles and increases the rate of sedimentation in the Humble/Kingwood corridor by slowing the velocity of the river.

At the San Jacinto Watershed meeting held on July 10th, many people were told that dredging would NOT be allowed under the bond. Evidently, some county employees did not get the message that it would be included and they gave residents mixed signals.

From Confusion to Clarity

I addressed this confusion in an earlier post, but some residents were still skeptical when they didn’t see dredging on the approved project list. Now it’s on the list which has been officially updated. We can breathe a sigh of relief.

This new list of bond projects clearly breaks out dredging as a separate item and allocates $50 million to it.

Projects for the San Jacinto Watershed are listed on pages 8 and 9. See the last item on page 8. The description of the line item pertaining to dredging says, “Potential partnership project with the City of Houston, Coastal Water Authority, and the State of Texas to permit, design, and complete dredging of the East Fork, West Fork and Lake Houston area waterways to reduce flooding risks.”

Watershed-Wide, Integrated Approach

Note that some projects which benefit us may also be listed upstream in tributary watersheds. Examples: additional detention in Montgomery County, far western Harris County along Cypress Creek, or another location TBD based on the outcome of the San Jacinto Watershed study (which is currently stalled because of lack of funding). The bond could help get that moving, too.

Ditches, Buyouts also Included

Note also that we got more than dredging, detention and gates. If this bond passes, it includes money that will also help improve drainage ditches and buy out homes that flood repeatedly.

What does this mean? In my opinion, it means the Lake Houston area can stop worrying about whether there are projects in the bond that will benefit all of us as opposed to some of us. We can now evaluate the bond on its costs and benefits.

Two Types of Allocations

Each project on the list falls into one of two categories. The first includes projects that will be fully funded directly by bond money. The second includes partnership projects. In the latter category, bond money represents only a percentage of the total cost. For example, bond money might be the seed money to qualify for matching grants from other governmental bodies.

While partnership projects can take longer to get off the ground and have a higher degree of uncertainty surrounding them, ultimately they leverage more local dollars. Depending on the number of partners and the formulas applied, one dollar could turn into four or more.

Total money allocated for San Jacinto Watershed projects exceeds $320,000,000 when matching funds are included. The massive turnout for the Bond meeting at Kingwood Park High School paid handsome dividends.

We can now take this discussion to the next level.

Posted July 20, 2018 by Bob Rehak

325 Days since Hurricane Harvey