Colony Ridge Expanding North Into More Wetlands

After months of expanding Colony Ridge to the east, the developer is now pushing north. The new area is outlined in red below.

From Google Earth Pro. Red box shows new expansion area to the north of those currently being developed.

US Fish and Wildlife Shows Area Contains Many Wetlands

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the new area contains numerous wetlands. So did the partially developed area below it.

Here’s the same general area highlighted within the USGS National Wetlands Inventory.

Wetlands are nature’s way of slowing water down after a rain. They also filter runoff before it reaches streams, reducing the amount of sediment pollution.

The photos below, all taken on 5/26/2021, show the same kinds of business practices that just earned Colony Ridge eight complaints from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality during nine investigations.

Looking north from a helicopter. Notice how ditch and roads are beginning to push into woods at top of frame.
As with previous sections recently developed, Colony Ridge is not too picky about piling dirt next to ditches where sediment can wash back in.
Piling dirt next to the ditches seems to be a standard practice. Note how it’s already washing back into the ditch in the lower left of this photo.

If the developer were following best management practices, according to the TCEQ and Stormwater Pollution Protection Plan recommendations, you would expect to see temporary grass, rock gabions, silt fences, and hay bales in these photos. All check the flow of sediment into ditches.

Draining the swamp
Looking SE toward the east part of Sante Fe (Sections 6-11) already cleared. Note swampy areas at bottom left.

Biden Trying to Restore Clean Water Act Protections

Ironically, all this development comes as the EPA under the Biden administration seeks to put teeth back into the Clean Water Act. The administration is trying to restore the definition of “Waters of the United States” that Trump restricted. Yesterday, the Justice Department submitted a legal filing that begins that process.

The EPA and Department of the Army have formally requested repeal of the Trump-era rule. That rule exempted many developments near upstream tributaries such as Luce and Tarkington Bayous from the need to obtain permits under the Clean Water Act. It basically removed large swaths of land from regulation by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

According to this Associated Press article by Matthew Daly on 6/9/2021, environmental groups and public health advocates said Trump’s interpretation of Waters of the US “allowed businesses to dump pollutants into unprotected waterways and fill in some wetlands, threatening public water supplies downstream and harming wildlife and habitat.”

Daly quotes Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant Army secretary for civil works as saying, “The Trump-era rule resulted in a 25% reduction in the number of streams and wetlands that are afforded federal protection.”

It’s unclear at this time whether rollback of Trump regulations will affect Colony Ridge. Even if the changes survive legal and legislative challenges, it could be years before they take affect.

By then, the world’s largest trailer park will have doubled again in size.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/10/2021

1381 Days since Hurricane Harvey

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.