Correction: The head of Enforcement for the TCEQ notified me that there was a “proposed” fine of $16,875 issued to the Triple-P Mine for the May breach, but that they have not “settled” yet.
The East Fork of the San Jacinto River and the Triple-P sand mine took a terrible toll on Kingwood’s East End Park for the second time in two years during Imelda. Sand several feet thick blanketed about 30 acres of this beautiful ecological gem and the peaceful trails that wind through it. The devastation matched and in some cases surpassed Harvey’s. These pictures tell the story. After Harvey, it took hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the trails and boardwalks in the park. It will cost at least that much again.
Blanketed by Sand
Scoured by Flood Waters
Taking Destruction to New Levels
Giant Trees Uprooted
For your own safety and the safety of your shoes, do not venture into the park near the river. It’s dangerous as you can see. Quicksand even exists in some places.
Now for The Bad News
Much of this sand may have come from the Triple-P sand mine on Caney Creek, just upstream from East End Park.
Once again the mine breached its dike, underscoring the danger of locating mines in floodways. This particular mine sits at the confluence of two floodways: Caney Creek and White Oak Creek. During Harvey, it lost a major portion of its stockpile to floodwaters. Then it happened again.
In May 2019, Tony Buzbee, candidate for Mayor of Houston, witnessed another breach while on a tour on the San Jacinto to investigate sedimentation issues. I notified the TCEQ and they issued a Notice of Enforcement in August. But they did not fine the company. This makes the third documented breach in two years.
Wrong Type of Repair
It appears that Triple P dumped some sand in the breach in a feeble attempt to stop the hemorrhage. But it obviously did not hold for long. Fahrmeier, who discovered this latest breach on his Waverunner, is an expert in turbidity and environmental pollution control. He said that sand is the wrong type of material for repairing dikes and that the repeat blowout was predictable.
Fahrmeier said that as he was coming up Caney Creek, the stream of sediment coming from the mine made it look as though there were two different streams. “There’s still quite a bit of sediment flowing into the river as evidenced by the discoloration. The pit is pretty large and no doubt contributed a significant volume of water and sediment flowing into Lake Houston since last week.”
KSA will begin initiating repairs on East End Park quickly. But many parts of the park are still not accessible. It may be months before all this damage can be repaired. In the meantime, please limit use of the park to the higher parts unaffected by Imelda and Triple P. No doubt some of this sand comes from river bed and bank erosion. But I believe a lot came from the mine, too. I hope KSA decides to sue the mine this time. It’s clear that they do not fear the TCEQ.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/23/2019 with images from John Knoezer and Charlier Fahrmeier
756 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 5 since Imelda
The thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.