The Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, aka the world’s largest trailer park, has more than doubled in size in the last 3 years. Measurements in Google Earth show that Colony Ridge, which started clearing land in 2012, has expanded from approximately 8,000 acres in 2019 to almost 20,000 acres today. To put that in perspective, Kingwood comprises approximately 14,000 acres and took more than 40 years to build out.
But the rapid growth of Colony Ridge has not come without pain:
- The developer avoided building floodwater detention ponds by underestimating runoff.
- Insufficiently mitigated drainage washed out FM1010.
- The developer declared war on wetlands and drained them.
- Neighboring Plum Grove sued the developer over flooding, sewage leaks, and street damage.
- TCEQ launched more than a dozen investigations into construction practices and sewage leaks.
- Wayne Dolcefino exposed the cozy relationship between the developer and elected officials.
- A foreclosure scandal in the owner-financed development made headlines.
- Surrounding volunteer fire departments battle blazes without the help of fire hydrants in most areas…or financial support.
- Rivers of mud continue to flow out of drainage ditches with big rains because the developer flaunted construction regulations for them.
Consequences of Poor Construction Practices
As a result of such drainage issues and exposed soils, more sediment flows downstream than otherwise would. This contributed to sediment buildups on the San Jacinto East Fork (see below). Those, in turn, reduce conveyance and contribute to downstream flooding – unless the public continues to spend millions on dredging.
Still Not Following Best Practices
Aerial photos taken on 7/22/2022 with Ken Williams and Bill Callegari, two fellow members of the Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force, show the current state of the development and construction practices in Colony Ridge. Sadly, not much has improved. For instance, the developer still piles dirt on the edge of ditches without protecting them with silt fences.
Water shooting down the ditch above created a major headache during Harvey. See below.
FM 1010 Still Washed Out
Floodwater from the ditch washed out FM 1010. This major N/S thoroughfare still needs repair…five years later!
Photos Showing New Development
If there’s good news in these photos, it is that the developer appears to be leaving more natural ground cover in the newest areas. Still, without vegetation on the sides of ditches, without better construction practices, excess sediment could continue washing into the Lake Houston Area for years to come.
Ever Widening Circles
These images support the need to harmonize and enforce higher drainage standards throughout the region. Without change two things will happen:
- Downstream residents will continue to pay the price for egregious development practices upstream.
- Someday, the people who buy these lots will also become flood victims of similar new developments even farther upstream.
Will we continue to repeat mistakes of the past in ever widening circles? Will we continue to sow the seeds of future flooding? Or will we wake up to the fact that we are all part of one giant community?
Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/23/2022
1792 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.