City of Houston Contractors to Begin East Fork Debris Removal

Disaster Recovery Corporation, a contractor for the City of Houston will soon begin debris removal on the San Jacinto East Fork.

Scope of Work

The scope of this particular phase of debris removal extends from just north of the southern tip of Lake Houston Park to about halfway up the east side of the 5000 acre park. See the start and stop points on the satellite image below.

The City of Houston should begin debris removal on the east side of Lake Houston Park next week.

The distance covered equals 2 miles as crow flies or 3 miles as the fish swims.

Debris Includes…

Here are FEMA guidelines for debris removal. Debris can include trees, sunken boats, old tires, vehicles, and other things washed downstream in floods. It is basically any debris in the water, or below the surface at a depth that is equal to the maximum draft level of the largest vessel that would use the waterway plus 2 feet. Debris also includes trees that are leaning or that pose a threat to public safety.

Beginning First Week in June

Work should start the first week in June. Authorities eventually expect the work to extend up to the Harris County line at FM1485 near the extension of the Grand Parkway.

Debris Removal to Date

Debris removal to date in other places on the East and West Forks and their tributaries has consisted mainly of the removal of downed trees. On Lake Houston, debris removal began almost exactly two years ago.

The trees pose hazards to navigation and can form logjams that back water up in floods, threatening homes and businesses. They also can get hung up on bridge supports and the Lake Houston Dam, threatening infrastructure.

During Harvey, trees swept downstream and caught up in the supports for the Union Pacific and the southbound Highway 59 bridges over the West Fork in Humble. Both bridges had to be replaced. Trees also blocked flow at the FM1960 bridge and the rail bridge in Lake Houston.

Trees enter the waterway when floodwaters undermine river banks or simply rip trees out by their roots.

Downed trees on West Fork after Hurricane Harvey flood. Photo taken September 14, 2017
Dead tree removal on Lake Houston in June 2018.
This pontoon carried dead trees as well as fencing that had been swept into the river. September 2018.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/29/2020

1004 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 253 since Imelda