flooded Centerpoint utility corridor

Centerpoint Utility Corridor Flooding Below RV Resort

Since development of the Laurel Springs RV Resort started last October, the Centerpoint easement below the development has turned into a small lake. It’s not clear at this point what caused the lake to develop. Several theories come time mind: increased runoff; sediment blocking drains; heavy January rains; poorly drained soils; illegal discharges; or some combination of the above. Regardless, this raises the most common question I encounter these days. “What happens when a developer builds its land up and sends water onto my property?”

Before Development

Here’s how the Centerpoint easement looked on October 25 last year when contractors started clearing land. Note the power lines in the small corridor left of the bigger one for railroad tracks. Also notice the tiny little ponds in the distance toward Hamblen Road at the top of the frame.

Looking SSE along the utility corridor and railroad tracks to the west of the RV resort shortly after clearing started on October 25, 2021.
In the month before that picture was taken, the gage at the 59 bridge recorded 6.68 inches of rain. Source: Harris County Flood Warning System.

According to Weather.gov, the 30 year average for October is 5.46 inches. So we got a little more than an inch above normal. Yet the corridor had only tiny amounts of ponding water.

January Photo Shows Ponds Expanding

On January 9, we had a large rainfall event and a photo that day shows the ponds expanded.

After heavy rains on 1/9/2022. Note small stream of water running down middle of utility corridor and two large ponds.

But also note how the larger pond in the distance stops well short of Hamblen Road in top right of frame.

We had 7.88 inches in January, more than 5″ of which fell on January 8th and 9th. Source: Harris County Flood Warning System.

February Rainfall One Third of Normal, But Ponds Continue to Grow

But since January 8/9, we’ve had very little rain. Nevertheless, the ponds have expanded into what one resident called a “lake” that blocked her hike down the utility corridor. See below.

Looking S toward Hamblen Road at top of frame. Pond now extends almost all the way to Hamblen.

The amazing thing is that the “lake” grew despite very little rain in February. As the chart below shows, we got 1 inch which is one third of the monthly average of 2.97 inches. Moreover, we got no significant rain for the 7 weeks before I took the picture above.

Gage at 59/West Fork San Jacinto shows 1 inch of rain for whole month of February. Source: Harris County Flood Warning System.

Yet the lake now stretches almost all the way to Hamblen! It’s getting bigger! So where’s the water coming from?

Water Not Coming West, East or South

It didn’t come from west of the railroad tracks. Union Pacific elevated those several feet above ground level.

Laurel Springs Lane has storm sewers that would have intercepted water from the east.

And water doesn’t usually flow uphill, so it didn’t come from the south either.

Much of it probably came from the north and the detention pond below which the developers drained into Edgewater Park on January 29.

stormwater runoff discharge
Contractors drained detention pond into Edgewater Park on January 29.

Prior to that, they also pumped water over the wall of the pond.

Laurel Springs RV Resort
Laurel Springs RV Resort pumping stormwater into Edgewater Park on 1/18/2022.
Contractors laying pipe under wall of detention pond to send stormwater into Edgewater Park
Then on January 31, contractors even tried to lay pipe through the wall of the detention pond to create a permanent conduit for stormwater into Edgewater Park.

Addition of Fill

They’re also bringing in fill to build up the RV Resort higher than the property around them. As they do so, they have been pushing standing water toward the utility corridor.

Looking west toward Centerpoint corridor just beyond tree line. Photo taken 2/10/22.

Lake Expands on One-Third Average Rainfall!

The bottom line is this.

Standing water in the Centerpoint utility corridor has increased as rainfall has fallen well below normal.

When you look around, there’s only one place this water could have come from.

I don’t want to beat this horse to death. But I get emails every day from people across northern Harris and southern Montgomery Counties. They worry about comparable issues. In essence, the emails say something like this: “A developer is building up land and flooding my property.”

I can understand the desire to build up land to avoid flooding on your own property. But we need to agree on ways to avoid flooding neighbors in the process. The answer probably lies in:

  • Higher detention pond requirements – The pond on this property holds half the current requirement.
  • Better construction practices and training, i.e., sloping all land toward detention ponds.
  • Meaningful inspections and penalties by authorities.
  • Publication of the penalties.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/28/2022

1644 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.