When Harris County and the City of Houston closed on the purchase of Woodridge Village, flood victims in Elm Grove, North Kingwood Forest and along Taylor Gully were elated. Harris County purchased the land to create a regional floodwater detention basin. That immediately raised questions about what comes next and when?
Although an exact date has not yet been announced, the Harris Count Flood Control District (HCFCD) plans to hold community engagement meetings in the near future.
The first will occur early in the development of the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER). The goals: to inform the community of each project’s purpose and receive community input during preliminary engineering.
A second meeting will occur once the final draft of the preliminary engineering report is complete. Its purpose: to present the results to community.
HCFCD will also communicate with local groups such as homeowner associations and the Kingwood Service Association in regularly scheduled virtual meetings as needed. Those will provide project updates and information about other Flood Control District efforts (e.g., buyouts, maintenance projects, smaller capital projects) in the Kingwood area throughout the PER process.
The Flood Control District will also identify opportunities to participate in regularly scheduled meetings and develop project-specific presentations to convey project information and proposed project features.
First Engineering Firm Already Selected
The engineering firm elected to develop the Preliminary Engineering Report for Taylor Gully improvements, IDCUS, will also consider Woodridge Village within its scope of work. IDCUS will consider what detention volume can be achieved on the Woodridge Village property and how that would affect the Taylor Gully project.
The Flood Control District plans to set up a separate project with a different consultant team to provide the detailed design services for the proposed detention basin.
Role of Rustling Elms Bridge in Flooding to Be Examined
Many residents have observed that the bridge over Taylor Gully at Rustling Elms seems to be a choke point that backs water up into surrounding homes. HCFCD will examine the role of the bridge in flooding. But, said Matt Zeve, Deputy Executive Director of HCFCD, “I cannot guarantee that the recommended plan will include any modifications to Rustling Elms.”
The different heights of water above and below the bridge relate its design. See below.
However, retaining more water upstream might eliminate the need to make any costly changes to the bridge. Everything works together. It’s just too early to tell.
Other Changes Being Considered
The Flood Control District is considering a regional stormwater detention basin for the Woodridge Village site. A portion of the property will be owned by the City of Houston for a future wastewater treatment plant.
Other amenities could be considered for the site, but would require a partner to construct and maintain those amenities. “The Flood Control District does not design, construct, or maintain amenities such as dog parks, trails, playgrounds, or sports fields,” said Zeve. However, HCFCD expressed a willingness to meet and work with community groups to discuss potential partnerships and make sure that input is included in design considerations.
Atlas 14 Will Form Basis of Design
Perry Homes sized detention ponds currently on the site to meet pre-Atlas-14 requirements. That means their detention capacity will fall about 30-40% short of Atlas-14 requirements. Montgomery County’s Atlas-14 requirements are lower than Harris County’s. When asked about this, Zeve responded, “HCFCD will use Atlas 14 rainfall rates for our designs even if the watershed area is not in Harris County.” That should provide some extra capacity that provides a buffer against additional upstream growth in the watershed.
Could Excavation Start Before Hurricane Season?
The Flood Control District will sometimes starts excavation on sites before final design plans are completed. HCFCD uses this program frequently to get a head start on excavation for large stormwater detention basins. “The District may not have enough time to get that program up and running by June 1, 2021, but we can certainly provide updates on this effort via our website,” said Zeve.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/11/2021
1290 Days since Hurricane Harvey