Dredging Status: End of September

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spread out across the West Fork of the San Jacinto River for its Emergency Dredging Project. Here is a visual status report from a trip up the river on Friday. I went from West Lake Houston Parkway past the US59 bridge to chronicle what has become an amphibious construction project.

The first dredge belonging to Callan Marine, a subcontractor to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, has taken up position near the high tension power lines that connect Kingwood and Kings Lake Estates.

This is what the entire dredging assembly looks like.

It has been idling in the same position more than a week while pipeline and booster pumps are connected to it upstream.

Here’s what it looks like from the stern where dredged materials will enter the pipeline that takes them back to placement area #1.

This booster pump is required because of the distance to placement area #1 behind the apartments on Townsend near North Houston Avenue just south of the river.

Pilot boat shuttles pontoon with heavy equipment into place.

Heading upriver, more pipeline waits to be connected near the dredging command site.

At the command site, staff scurries to get the second dredge ready to launch before mid-October.

Dredge #2 owned by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock. This electric dredge will pump sediment to placement area #2 and require more booster pumps than the first dredge because of the length of the pipeline, almost five miles. Placement area #2 is on Sorters Road just south of Kingwood College.

Close up of the business end of the second dredge still at the dock. The rotating assembly stirs up sediment which is then suctioned into the pipeline and pumped to a placement area.Workers loading water into pipeline to get it to submerge. 

Pontoon with crane and pipeline welding equipment.  Sections of pipe waiting to be connected provide a convenient resting place for egrets and other water fowl.

The debris barges will offload their cargo here, where it will be transferred into these trucks and hauled away for processing or landfill.

Meanwhile, another crew scouts a route to placement area #2. Up the West Fork near Kingwood College, the river is so shallow, it may not be deep enough to float pipeline. If dredging in this reach of the river becomes necessary, it could delay the job and increase costs.

From this brief visual trip up the river, you can see that much prep work remains before full dredging can start. The second dredge has not yet launched and no pipeline has reached placement area 2. City officials have stated that the Corps hoped to be in full operation by mid-October. The 270-day clock for this project began ticking on August 19. Two hundred and twenty-nine days remain to the expected completion. Before the project is done, the Corps expected to move 1.8 million cubic yards of sand and sediment out of the river. 

Posted by Bob Rehak on September 30, 2018

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