Update on Woodridge Village Detention Ponds After Recent Heavy Rains

After six months of virtual inactivity, Perry Homes’ new Woodridge Village contractors have significantly stepped up work on three detention ponds. All detention ponds are on the northern section of the development. However, recent heavy rains have saturated the soil. The rain also filled two of the three ponds one-third to one-half full. The result: a big muddy mess.

Tuesday, according to Elm Grove resident Jeff Miller, only one excavator was moving. It was trying to let water out of the N1 pond so that work could continue.

Twelve Aerial Photos Taken on Memorial Day

Below are 12 aerial photos of the site taken on Memorial Day, 5/25/2020.

Looking north along the western boundary of Woodridge at the tail of the N1 Pond.
Further north, you can see where work has stopped on the tail of N1 (foreground), the Webb Street Entrance in Porter (left), and the N1 pond itself are at the top.

The N1 pond has the least development. Most work to date has focused on the tail. That’s presumably so contractors can keep the entrance to the site open. N1 will probably be the last pond they finish. And they will probably complete it only after they develop a second entrance to the site off Ford Road (see below).

Only Work Tuesday Was Trying To Drain N1

Looking south along the western boundary from over N1, you can see where the tail ends. The tiny trench letting water out of the tail slows down water. It will eventually be replaced by the four-foot culverts you see on the left.

That tiny trench is where the excavator was working today.

Site Holds More Water than N2 Detention Pond

Still looking south, but further down the western boundary, we can see the old and new portions of the N2 detention pond. It is not currently holding much water because contractors have already opened up the sides. That allows water to escape into Taylor Gully (top center).

Note how there’s more water on the site than in N2.
Closer shot shows how workers opened up N2 to Taylor Gully (left of top center). They also continue to widen and deepen the pond toward the upper right corner.
Rotating about 90 degrees, we can see how saturated the soil is. The northern portion of the site contains an amazing amount of standing water that isn’t yet able to reach the detention ponds.

The northern portion of the site is roughly 200 acres. Assuming an average of three inches of standing water (one quarter foot), that means the northern portion may contain 50 acre-feet of standing water!

Taylor Gully Did Not Appear to Overflow

Looking southeast at North Kingwood Forest (left) and Elm Grove Village (right), areas where hundreds of homes flooded twice last year.
A closer shot shows where water in Taylor Gully, when high, is forced to make multiple turns within a few hundred yards to bypass a 3 foot pipe that connects the channel on either side of the county line. Luckily, water did not reach the overflow spillway from the concrete-lined channel during recent heavy rains, according to Jeff Miller.

N3 Pond Greatly Reduced Flow in Taylor Gully

The pond below (N3) sits directly above the portion of Taylor Gully that flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice last year. The vast majority of this excavation took place earlier this month.

Rotating to the northeast, you can see the N3 detention pond, now mostly excavated. Miller estimates it’s still one half to one third full.
Traveling up the eastern side of Woodridge, we can see tremendous erosion along the banks of N3. Those parallel stripes running down the sides of the pond are called rilling, shallow channels cut in the surface of soil by running water.

Simply Excavating Ponds Does Not Mean They Are Complete

Above, you can see that contractors did not yet have backslope interceptor swales in place. Nor did they have the pipes installed to channel intercepted runoff to the detention pond. Accordingly, runoff went over the edges of the pond and washed sediment into it.

The ponds will not be complete until backslope interceptor swales and pipes have been installed and grass planted along the edges of the ponds to prevent future rilling. The ponds also need concrete pilot channels to prevent erosion in the areas of constant use.

New Entrance on East

The new entrance to the subdivision (background below) will be an extension of Mace Street in Porter on the West. It will connect to Ford Road on the East.

Looking straight east from the top of N3. Note two things: a channel designed to funnel standing water to N3 and the new entrance to the subdivision cut into the woods in the distance.

Mace enters the western side of the subdivision just to the left of that silver roof in the distance of the shot below.

Looking directly west across Woodridge Village while hovering over N3 on the eastern border.

Why You Don’t Build On Wetlands

The last image above shows why you don’t buy homes built over wetlands, even if the Army Corps ruled that the wetlands weren’t jurisdictional. Any homes built here would likely have foundation problems from shifting soils. Of course, by then, the builder would be long gone.

In reviewing the complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau against Perry Homes, most of them had to do with failure to honor warranties. Digging deeper, you can see many of the underlying complaints had to do with drainage, flooding, mold, and mildew.

There may be a connection between the type of property Perry develops and the problems that customers later develop. If Perry builds on this property, I pity any poor unsuspecting customers who fail to research its history.

No New Statements on Potential County Buyout

To my knowledge, neither Harris County, the City of Houston, nor Perry Homes have issued any public statements about the status of a buyout of this property. Harris County Flood Control District was considering using it to build a regional flood-detention facility. But County Commissioners added new conditions on any buyout in their last meeting.

Twice-flooded residents in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest eagerly await new details on the deal. Even if Perry completes work on all the ponds, it will likely not be enough to handle a true hundred-year rainfall event.

Ponds Still Would Not Likely Detain Hundred-Year Rain

Perry rushed to get plans permitted before new Atlas-14 rainfall standards went into effect. They would have required 30% to 40% more detention than the plans that the City and Montgomery County approved.

In the meantime, though, the new detention ponds will greatly reduce the risk of flooding from lesser storms. Also, the National Weather Service has reduced the risk of rain in the next several days. That may give Woodridge Village time to dry out and downstream residents time to catch up on their sleep.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/27/2020 with reporting from Jeff Miller

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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.