When Is a Detention Pond Not a Detention Pond?

On a flyover of the Harris/Montgomery county line last month, I spotted something unusual: a detention pond with an outlet bigger than its inlet. And it was in Woodridge FOREST. You may remember that after Imelda, Woodridge Forest advertised homes that did not flood on signs posted in nearby intersections…around downstream homes that did flood!

Detention Pond that Isn’t

Wide shot, looking east toward St. Martha’s Catholic Church and Kingwood Park High School. Photo taken 1/20/2020.

Below is a closeup of the suspect pond cropped from the image above.

Water flows from bottom left to upper right in this image. During Harvey, the outlet for this detention pond blew out. Imelda enlarged it even more. No one has repaired it, meaning it retains no water in a flood.
Water from this part of the subdivision does not even go through the pond. Note the location of this outlet in the photos above and below.
Satellite image shows clearer comparison. Detention pond has bigger outlet than inlet and a creek that runs around it.

Detention ponds usually work by capturing water coming in a fast rate, storing it, and releasing it at a slower rate that minimizes downstream flooding.

From Montgomery County Drainage Criteria Manual

This pond provides very little, if any detention capacity. In fact, Ben’s Branch runs BOTH around and through it!

The berm that forms the north side of the pond in the image above does little more than take up valuable space in the flood plain.

On its way from 59 to Woodland Hills, Ben’s Branch goes through a series of “detention ponds” along the southern edge of Woodridge Forest. What purpose does of this one serve? And are the others doing their job?

Developers/HOAs Responsible for Maintenance

In Montgomery County, developers or HOA’s must maintain their own detention ponds (see section 7.2.8). But do they? No one seems to inspect their work. The damage to this pond initially happened after Harvey, almost 900 days ago. Then Imelda damaged it more, almost 150 days ago.

The pond should also have a 30-foot wide maintenance road around it (also section 7.2.8), but does not. The developer built the pond in 2016, but no one seems to have noticed the absence of the maintenance road yet. That missing maintenance road might have helped in the repair of the pond after Harvey.

And the “Rub-Your-Nose-In-It” Award Goes To…

Who knows how much this pond could have helped reduce flooding on May 7th and September 19th last year?

Many who flooded in North Woodland Hills and Bear Branch sure would like to know.

The truly appalling thing about this: shortly after Imelda, Woodridge Forest posted signs in the area informing buyers, “We don’t flood.” Well, when you’re not retaining all the water you should…

Montgomery County is on an unsustainable path. Every week, I get complaints from Montgomery County residents about flooding there. MoCo is already starting to reap what it has sown. Someday, MoCo, too, will be downstream from another rapidly growing county. And then the tragic precedent MoCo has set will make payback inevitable.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/13/2020

898 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 147 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.