What Happened to Sand From West Fork Dredging?

People often ask, “What happened to all that sand they took out of the river?” During the Army Corps Emergency West Fork San Jacinto Dredging Project in 2018 and 2019, they pumped approximately 2.3 million cubic yards of sand upriver to two “placement areas.”

Placement Area 1

The first placement area: an active sand mine south of the Kingwood College between Sorters-McClellan Road and the West Fork. Note all the sand in the picture below. This sand mine was for sale, but the dredging spoils gave it new life. From here, sand goes to new construction projects across north Houston and southeast Montgomery County.

Looking SE at Placement Area 1, the Eagle Mine. West Fork San Jacinto in lower right. Sorters-McClellan Road cuts diagonally through top of frame above sand mine. Photo taken 1/20/2020.

Placement Area 2

The second placement area: an old pit on Townsend behind some flooded apartments in Humble.

Townsend in foreground turns from east/west to north/south. The apartments were heavily flooded during Harvey. West Fork and Army Corps Command Post in background. Some of this sand being sold too.

Placement Area 3: Berry Madden’s Property

Placement Area 3 is Berry Madden’s property south of the West Fork but north of FM1960. The water below is a back channel of the West Fork. Here, the spoils are being barged in from the mouth bar. The barges offload in the center left and the spoils are trucked inland. Should the dredgers shift over from mechanical to hydraulic dredging, this property can accommodate that.

Berry Madden’s property south of San Jacinto West Fork, west of Kings Lake Estates. Photo taken 1/20/2020. This placement area is just starting up. It will accommodate additional sand taken from the West Fork Mouth Bar. See below.

A Look at Mechanical Dredging

Currently, DRC is mechanically dredging the West Fork Mouth Bar. In hydraulic dredging, sand is pumped upstream continuously via pipeline. In mechanical, excavators scoop sand onto a barge, which shuttles it to a placement area as the pictures below show.

Excavator loads sand from west end of mouth bar onto waiting dredge. Photo by Josh Alberson 2/1/2020.
Wider shot shows a second excavator and another barge working together farther east. Photo by Josh Alberson 2/1/2020.
60-80 cubic yards are loaded onto a barge which is pushed upriver to Madden’s property. Photo by Josh Alberson 2/1/2020.
After offloading, it returns to mouth bar for another load. Round trip time on Saturday afternoon: about 3 hours. Photo by Josh Alberson 2/1/2020.
Back at the mouth bar, it’s time for a reload. Photo by Rachel Taylor, 2/1/2020.
Bottoms up. Photo by Rachel Taylor, 2/1/2020.

Posted by Bob Rehak with photos from Josh Alberson and Rachel Taylor on February 2, 2020

887 Days since Hurricane Harvey