Army Corps Releases New Video of West Fork Dredging Highlights

Two minute video that looks back on the Emergency West Fork Dredging Project. Project should be completed within the next three weeks.

Last week I reported that Great Lakes finished dredging its segment of the San Jacinto West Fork. Their dredge is currently docked, but is not yet undergoing demobilization.

Callan Marine, a subcontractor to Great Lakes on the job is still hard at work clearing the Kings Harbor area. Over the next 30 days, the Army Corps forecasts that Callan will remove an additional 125,000 cubic yards of material from the West Fork,” said Alton Meyer, Corps Project Manager.

Callan Marine Dredge still hard at work in Kings Harbor area.

Unless FEMA, Army Corps, City of Houston, Harris County and State of Texas can strike a deal to remove the giant sand bar at the mouth of the West Fork, demobilization will begin in early May, roughly two weeks from now. For now, Great Lakes is standing by, waiting for that decision.

Dredging Highlights To Date

The video above shows some of the highlights of the current project. The Army Corps produced it.

As of April 11, 2019, the Corps and contractors had removed 652 tons of woody debris and 1,547,000 cubic yards of sand from the river.

The Corps estimates that by the completion date, 720 tons of woody debris and 1,684,000 cubic yards of sand will be removed from this 2-mile stretch of the San Jacinto.

The project began September 20, 2018, and should finish by the end of May, 2019.

Mouth-Bar Considerations

Planners now need to determine whether to extend the project by dredging the mouth bar. That would keep the crew and equipment working. And that could save, at least in theory, approximately $18 million in remobilization fees compared to pulling out now and coming back later.

Planners are evaluating:

  • How much sediment Harvey deposited in the mouth bar area
  • The cost to remove it
  • Where to place it.

All three variables affect each other. That makes costing the alternatives complex. For instance, the further upriver you pump the sand, the higher the cost for any given volume. That’s because you need additional pipeline, booster pumps, fuel, pontoons and crew.

Of the three variables, decidingwhere to place the sediment is the most time consuming. By Federal law, permitting the placement site requires two mandatory 30-day public-comment periods.

Great Lakes’ early finish pressured planners to evaluate Placement Area #2 (south of Kingwood College on Sorters Road) as an alternative placement area. Because it is already permitted, it would not require the lengthy public comment periods. And because the land owner is selling the sediment placed there, it is not filling up as quickly as Placement Area #1.

Thus, it may be technically possible to keep the equipment working and save remobilization fees – if FEMA can make a decision quickly enough.

A third possibility: using a combination of two placement areas, as in the current project.

While FEMA and the Corps weigh their options and costs, Great Lakes is repairing its equipment and inspecting pipeline. Mouth-bar dredging already has support of the City of Houston, Harris County and the State.

A decision could come in the next week or two.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/15/19

594 Days since Hurricane Harvey