RV Park detention pond wall repaired...with permanent drain running through it. But inspector found no problems.

City Inspector Finds No Problems At RV Park. 311 Says “Case Closed.” Martin’s Office Says “Not So Fast.”

After photos showed clear construction permit violations at the Laurel Springs RV Resort, a City inspector said he found no problems there. Then, 311 closed the case. But Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office said another group was investigating. Martin’s chief of staff did not elaborate.

Discharging Silty Stormwater into County Park

On Saturday, I photographed the contractor digging a trench to let silty stormwater out of the detention pond into Harris County Precinct 4’s Edgewater Park.

stormwater runoff
RV Park Drains its construction pond into Harris County Precinct 4’s new Edgewater Park in background.

This violated the terms of the developer’s construction permit. The trees behind the trench belong to Harris County Precinct 4 Park System. And the construction permit clearly states that “stormwater runoff shall not cross property line.”

Note first sentence on approved drainage plan.

Discharging across property lines also violates state law. See Chapter 11.086 of the state water code.

Then on Monday morning, I photographed the contractor covering up pipe that creates a permanent outfall onto County property.

Contractors laying pipe under wall of detention pond to send stormwater into Edgewater Park
Contractors covering up pipe that will convey future discharges. Photographed yesterday.

So I filed a complaint with the City’s 311 system at the request of Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s District E staff.

Finally, today (Tuesday morning), I tried to photograph the drain/trench again. But contractors had covered it up and repaired the dike. If you hadn’t seen the previous pictures, you would never suspect a drainpipe was there (except for some black silt fencing around the intake which will be taken down).

By Tuesday morning, contractors had repaired the pond wall. Area circled in red is the outfall, covered with water.

Extent of Silty Runoff

The silty stormwater ran almost all the way down to Hamblen Road.

Water should have gone under Laurel Springs Lane and into the detention pond above via COH storm sewer. However, the contractor discharged it into the park instead. Note sediment-laden water in foreground.
A large portion of the park appears to be inundated with silty discharge.
Looking north toward detention pond on RV site from over Edgewater Park. Note silty water in foreground.

City Inspector Found No Violations

As I reviewed Tuesday’s images, I received an email from 311 saying the inspector found no problems and that 311 had closed the case. Obviously, the 311 operator didn’t clearly communicate the nature of my complaint. It was about stormwater runoff and construction-permit violations, not a fence line encroachment.

And clearly, the inspector didn’t:

  • Look at the approved drainage plan that showed the outfall should be going into the City storm sewer under Laurel Springs Lane.
  • Understand that draining water onto neighbor’s property violates the construction permit and state regulations.
  • Know the trees below the construction site belong to the County Park. He thought they belonged to the contractor. (See below.)
Response from 311 to complaint about construction stormwater violations. No pictures were attached despite text of email.

Inspector Felt Discharging into County Park Was Best Management Practice

To add insult to injury, the inspector characterized discharging into Edgewater Park’s vegetation as a contractor best management practice (BMP). Obviously, he thought the trees belonged to the contractor. He didn’t bother to explore who owned the land below the construction site or how far south the discharge had traveled.

Responses like this give the City a black eye.

I immediately emailed Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office about the 311 response. Jessica Beemer, his chief of staff, responded that the case wasn’t really closed. She said a different group had been assigned to investigate the complaint. But, as of this writing, she did not elaborate.

The TCEQ hopes to respond to a separate complaint by tomorrow. And I met several Harris County employees investigating the construction this morning in response to other complaints.

Stay tuned. More news to follow. This isn’t over yet.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/1/2022

1617 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.