SJRA Responds to Post about SB 2126 Opening Door to River Mining

Letter to the Editor

RE: “Caution: SB 2126 Opens Door to Sand Mining in Rivers”


Thank you for your work with Reduce Flooding to raise awareness about flooding and flood-related issues since Hurricane Harvey.  You have done a tremendous job of helping to educate the public on the causes of flooding and providing status updates on current and future flood-related projects and initiatives. Regarding your April 25 post titled ““Caution: SB 2126 Opens Door to Sand Mining in Rivers,” I want to clarify what SB 2126 is and what it is not.  

Chuck Gilman, the author of this post, is
Director of Water Resources and Flood Management for the
San Jacinto River Authority

The concept behind SB 2126 is to create a proactive approach toward removing sediment from the river before it is deposited in Lake Houston.  If you’ll recall the KBR report from 2000 noted “For long-term sediment management consideration, sedimentation basins, either on-channel or off-channel, are the most effective approach to minimizing sediment buildups and maintain the life of the channel conveyance.”  That is what we are attempting to accomplish with this program. 

The strategies and programs that could be implemented if SB 2126 is approved would not be river mining or dredging.  Any kind of dredging (either hydraulic or mechanic) would be very limited in scope, allowing conservation and reclamation districts to restore conveyance in the rivers in a strategic location through small-scale, periodic, targeted removal of sediment in the river.  This could be as large-scale as the current dredging project currently in progress, or as simple as the construction of sand traps that are dredged annually.  Regardless, your point about oversight and management is well noted, and is a requirement for this program to be a success.  

The San Jacinto River Authority has secured the support from the sand mining industry through the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association to explore options to remove sand, gravel, shell, and other aggregates from the river—all without a cost to taxpayers.  Ideally, the SJRA would be the public agency overseeing and managing the program, conducting the necessary studies, and coordinating with the appropriate state and federal agencies to determine where and how much material should be removed. Partners from the private sector could then remove the material as directed by SJRA.  

After Hurricane Harvey, Governor Abbott tasked all of us with flood control and flood management. SB 2126 creates opportunities for public-private partnerships to help preserve the channel conveyance capacity of the San Jacinto River.  As we know in the Lake Houston area, this sediment impedes the flow of storm water where the West Fork converges with Lake Houston.  

Senator Creighton has led the effort to develop a flood resiliency funding bill in the Senate this legislative session (SB 7), and continues to seek other options to help create a regional flood management effort in the San Jacinto Basin.  This bill would simply create another tool in our toolbox to help reduce potential flooding in the future.  

As stewards of the San Jacinto River and its water supply, the SJRA supports Senator Creighton’s proactive approach to managing sediment in the river. We are trusted partners with the State of Texas, Harris County Flood Control District, and FEMA to execute $2.5B in flood control bond projects like the comprehensive San Jacinto Watershed Master Drainage Plan.  We value our role as a community partner and appreciate the opportunity to further reduce the risk of flooding by providing oversight and management of this plan.

Chuck Gilman
Director of Water Resources and Flood Management
San Jacinto River Authority

For additional information on SJRA visit our website at www.sjra.netor like SJRA on Facebook 

Posted verbatim from SJRA letter by Chuck Gilman on 4/23/2019

602 Days since Hurricane Harvey