Here’s something to give thanks for on Thanksgiving. Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) announced Wednesday, 11/24/21, that Sprint Sand & Clay could begin excavation of another large detention pond on the Woodridge Village property as early as November 29. Lack of detention pond capacity on the property while it was being cleared contributed to flooding hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019.
Not Enough Detention Pond Capacity Existed to Meet Atlas-14 Requirements
Even after Perry Homes finished building the detention ponds in its plans, the volume still fell about 40% short of the capacity needed to meet Atlas-14 requirements.
Thus, the twice-flooded homeowners have been living in constant fear since then of every storm that passes overhead. PTSD caused some to postpone home restoration or even move away. So this should come as great news to the community.
HCFCD purchased the Woodridge Village property earlier this year. Harris County Commissioners then approved a contract for excavation in July. The excavation could be sporadic, however, because of the nature of the contract.
Sprint Sand & Clay will excavate material as needed under the terms of an HCFCD E&R contract. E&R stands for Excavation & Removal. HCFCD will pay Sprint just $1000 to excavate 500,000 cubic yards. Sprint then has the right to resell the dirt to developers, contractors and road builders at market rates.
Creating Extra Capacity
When Perry left the site, it had constructed 271 acre feet of detention. The site needed another 108.4 acre feet of detention pond capacity to meet Atlas-14 requirements, but will get 310 (the number of acre feet in 500,000 cubic yards). That almost triples the required additional volume and more than doubles the current capacity…all for $1000.
That extra capacity will create a margin of safety for residents in case expected rainfall rates increase again in the future.
It will also create a buffer against future development. For instance, it should help those downstream on Taylor Gully where it joins White Oak Creek. Rapid development continues upstream on White Oak Creek.
Nature of Contract Will Lower Cost, but Could Extend Completion Date
The nature of an E&R contract benefits taxpayers from a cost standpoint. It’s like getting free help. However, there’s also a potential hitch; demand fluctuation could delay the dirt’s removal. The contract obligates Sprint to remove a minimum of 5,000 cubic yards per month. But Sprint can average that, taking 10,000 cubic yards one month and none the next.
Thus, Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents might see furious excavation activity one month and none the next.
Regardless, HCFCD checks progress periodically with drones. And if Sprint looks like it is not complying, HCFCD has the right to terminate the contract. Otherwise, removal of the dirt could take up to three years.
The contract gives Sprint the right to sell the dirt anywhere with one condition. The ultimate placement must be outside any known floodplain – including the 500-year/0.02% annual chance floodplain.
This is the first time HCFCD has signed such a contract for work outside of Harris County. Woodridge Village sits in Montgomery County immediately north of the county line.
HCFCD started using E&R contracts all over Harris County long before the Bond. It was a way to show progress on detention basins that HCFCD had no money to build. The Cutten Road, Lauder Road, and Aldine-Westfield basins on Greens Bayou all started with E&R contracts.
Pond Will Go in Southern Section of Woodridge
The detention pond excavation will take place close to Sherwood Trails and Elm Grove to help intercept water coming off the steep northern portion of the site. See the green area below.
The new pond will also border the road that Perry built into the site. That will help facilitate removal of the dirt. See the photo below.
Construction Must Observe Stormwater Quality Requirements
HCFCD emphasized that all normal stormwater quality precautions will remain in effect. Rain that falls during excavation will be pumped into one of the site’s existing detention ponds (on the right in the photo above) to keep sediment from migrating downstream. That’s important because HCFCD just finished excavating Taylor Gully to restore its conveyance. No one wants to see it get plugged up again.
Site Closed During Construction
The construction work involves heavy machinery. Physical barriers and safety signage alerting visitors will be placed at access points. Residents should follow all posted signs and remain clear of the construction zone.
Trucks Will Work Around High-School Schedule
HCFCD has coordinated the contractor’s work schedule with administrators at Kingwood Park High School and Humble ISD to avoid arrival and departure times at the high school.
For More Info
If you’re tracking the progress of this on the HCFCD website, look for “Excavation and Removal Project at Former Woodridge Property” under Kingwood Information in the SAN JACINTO Watershed:
- Project ID: G503-06-00-E002
- Bond ID: Z-02
HCFCD also maintains Facebook and Twitter pages.
The City of Houston purchased the northern 70 acres of the site for a wastewater treatment facility. But the fate of the rest of site has not yet been decided. Community groups have reportedly been lobbying to turn the area into a wooded park with trails. A decision could come on that in the next few months.
HCFCD officials emphasized that the final dimensions of the pond could change as excavation proceeds. But dimensions should be determined long before Sprint finishes excavation.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/25/2021
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