City Quietly Cleaning Out Culverts Under Kingwood Drive Thanks to Local Activist

Chris Bloch, an engineer and Kingwood resident, has become a flood-control activist in his retirement. I often run into Chris inspecting ditches, streams and culverts for blockages and collapsed outfalls. Chris also works with the Bear Branch Trail Association which owns property along many of the channels and streams cutting through Kings Forest, Bear Branch, and Hunters Ridge.

Activist Extraordinaire

For the last several months, Chris has focused intensely on blocked channels that contributed to the flooding of 110 homes in Kings Forest during Harvey. Where the channels cross under Kingwood Drive, three had become almost totally blocked by vegetation and silt. That contributed to backing water up into homes. See below.

Ditch at Shady Run and Kingwood Drive before clean-out. Photo courtesy of Chris Bloch.

Chris meticulously photographed the problems, began researching which entities were responsible for which portions of the channels, and in the case above, contacted the City of Houston. The City has responsibility for the medians and sides of Kingwood Drive and other streets. His persistence paid off.

In October, the City began cleaning out the ditch near Shady Run and Kingwood Drive.

Vacuum truck photographed at same location on 10/3/2020

Here’s what that part of the channel looks like today.

Same ditch after clean-out. Photo courtesy of Chris Bloch.

End-to-End Inspections

Chris is tenacious, tireless, and wide ranging. He looks at ditches from end to end. In this case, he’s also trying to get the Flood Control District to escalate clean-out of the ditch south of Kingwood Drive. Reduced conveyance through that reach could also have contributed to flooding in Kingwood Lakes.

Bloch says he has also identified twenty storm-drain outfalls that need repair. “It doesn’t make any difference if the storm sewers are clear if the water in them can’t get to ditches and streams,” he says.

You Be an Activist, Too

Activists like Chris make Kingwood the great place it is. They help identify local problems for government and make the case for addressing them.

As you hike through our greenbelts and along channels, keep your eyes open for developing problems:

  • Collapsed outfalls into ditches
  • Eroded banks
  • Vegetation and silt blocking culverts
  • Developing sinkholes
  • Fallen trees damming streams

Be an activist like Chris. Take pictures and report them to the appropriate authorities. That will usually be the City or Flood Control.

You, too, can make a difference.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/2020

1174 Days since Hurricane Harvey