Details of Four SJRA Grant Applications for TWDB Flood Infrastructure Funds

Yesterday, I ran an article about Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Flood-Infrastructure-Fund Grant Applications. It incorrectly stated that the City of Houston had applied for six flood infrastructure fund grants. However, five of those listed were actually submitted by other entities, such as the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA). Below is more information about those grant applications.

Elm Grove Project Correctly Attributed to City

The City did apply for a grant to fund construction of a detention basin on the Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village Property north of Elm Grove Village in Kingwood. It was correctly attributed.

Four Projects Should Have Been Attributed to SJRA

The SJRA submitted four of the five applications that were incorrectly attributed.

  1. San Jacinto River Sand Trap Development
  2. Spring Creek Watershed Flood Control Dams Conceptual Engineering
  3. Upper San Jacinto River Basin Regional Sedimentation Study
  4. Lake Conroe-Lake Houston Joint Reservoir Operations Study

Mayor Pro Tem and District E Council Member Dave Martin personally supported those projects, hence the confusion. TWDB rules for Flood Infrastructure Fund Grants place a premium on support by all affected governmental entities within a watershed. Those include cities, counties, MUDs, river authorities, townships, etc.

Details of SJRA Grant Applications

Here’s more information about those four proposals.

  1. The Sand Trap Study currently underway has to do with identifying acceptable locations for the sand traps. Once identified, the new grant would cover the cost of their detailed design. The proposed study would extend work currently underway.
  2. The Spring Creek Watershed Flood Control Dams Conceptual Engineering Grant would cover the cost of partially designing dams. The San Jacinto River Basin Study identified locations for the dams. But it did not look at construction details. The new study would look at things, such as environmental impacts, utility conflicts, height of embankments, size of reservoir, etc. It continues work to date in the Spring Creek Watershed. San Jacinto River Basin Study partners have not yet released the locations.
  3. The Regional Sedimentation study builds on KBR’s work in 2000. KBR studied portions of the watershed that drain into Lake Houston, but not the East Fork, Caney Creek and Peach Creek. The new study has two objectives: understand where sediment is coming from and what can be done to reduce it. For instance, if the sediment is coming from new developments or sand mines, there may be a need to look at regulations that affect those.
  4. The Lake Conroe-Lake Houston Joint Reservoir Operations Study would look at the best ways to operate the two dams under different storm scenarios. It would assume the construction of additional floodgates on Lake Houston. It would also model storms approaching from different directions. The study will answer questions, such as “What would the effect of pre-releasing water into Galveston Bay be on Cities such as Baytown if a hurricane approaches from the south?” The deliverable: an operations plan.

Sedimentation and Its Role in Flooding

Two large sources of sediment: sand mines and new developments. Here the drainage for the Artavia development tries to find a path to the West Fork, through or around two sand mines. One of the mines was cited by the TCEQ for discharging 56-million gallons of sediment-laden wastewater into the West Fork.
The City, County, State and Federal Government are still working to remove the West Fork Mouth Bar, 1040 days after Hurricane Harvey. This bar is partially the result of excess sedimentation. During Harvey, this bar formed a partial dam that contributed to the flooding of more than 4000 homes and businesses.

More East Fork Gages in San Jacinto County

In addition, the SJRA has applied for a grant to purchase several more stream gages in San Jacinto County. San Jacinto County lies between Cleveland and Lake Livingston.

San Jacinto County partnered with the SJRA on that grant and would provide ongoing maintenance and operations if the application is successful.

Benefits of Additional Gages

Those additional gages would extend the flood-warning time for people in the East Fork Watershed. Such information is crucial for developing evacuation plans in emergencies.

The gages would also help inform the gate operations at Lake Houston. During Imelda, the East Fork received ten times more rain than the West Fork, but the West Fork has far more gages. That hindered understanding of where the danger was coming from and when it would strike.

As news becomes available about other grant applications in the San Jacinto Watershed, I will post it here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/4/2020

1040 Days after Hurricane Harvey