At the end of August, I checked with Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to see how excavation of the new Woodridge Village detention pond was coming and what the next steps are.
Before and After Photos
The two photos below show the extent of excavation at the end of July and today.
Eventually, the new detention basin could reach to or past the cluster of trees in the background.
Progress by the Numbers
From February through August, 2022, Sprint Sand and Clay has removed 55,167 Cubic Yards of dirt from the area where a new detention pond will eventually be built.
Eventually, they could double the amount of detention on the site. Sprint’s contract lets them remove up to 500,000 cubic yards and sell the dirt at market rates. In exchange, HCFCD will pay them only $1,000. The minimum amount to be removed under the contract is 5,000 cubic yards per month.
Since January, Sprint has managed to beat the minimum each month. But regular reports show the rate of excavation slowing with the housing market.
Sprint began work on January 27, 2022.
By mid-April, Sprint was averaging a little more than 14,000 cubic yards per month.
But by the end of July, the average fell to 8,000 cubic yards per month.
And in August, Sprint removed only 6,307 cubic yards.
At 6,000 cubic yards per month, Sprint exceeds the contract minimum. But it would take the company another six years to reach 500,000 cubic yards. Flood-weary Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents pray it doesn’t take that long.
Slowing Rates Reflect Slowdown in Housing
The slowing rates of removal reflect a slowdown in the housing market. The Census Bureau reports that privately‐owned housing starts in July were 9.6 percent below June and 8.1 percent below July 2021. TradingEconomics.com reports that the housing sector has been cooling down amid soaring prices of materials and rising mortgage rates. The Census Bureau has not yet released August rates.
Luckily, this project and others in the Kingwood Area could potentially accelerate soon.
Status of Preliminary Engineering Review on Taylor Gully
Idcus should be done with the Taylor Gully preliminary engineering review this fall. However, the Idcus contract does not include design of the detention basin that Sprint is working on. According to Alan Black, HCFCD Director of Operations, that design will need to go under a separate contract.
Funding for Design and Construction
That’s because US Congressman Dan Crenshaw secured a $1.6 million earmark earlier this year that will pay for design. Crenshaw has also requested another $10 million earmark to complete the actual construction of the Woodridge Basin when design is finalized.
According to Black, HCFCD can’t just extend the Idcus contract. HCFCD will have to start over with a request for qualifications (RFQ) for final design of the Woodridge Village detention basin and other improvements along Taylor Gully.
“That’s because the money that we’re going to use is coming from this year’s earmark from Congressman Crenshaw,” said Black. “Because federal funds are involved, we have to issue a new RFQ. We can’t use the consultant we already have just by default. So it will take us a little bit longer. By the end of this year or the beginning of next, we need to get a consultant selected, based on qualifications, once those grants come to fruition. In this case, they will be through the EPA.”
Other Crenshaw Requests to Help Lake Houston Area
As reported last night, in the immediate future, funding for projects in the Lake Houston Area will likely have to come from the Federal, State or City governments. Crenshaw has requested $10 million for construction of the Woodridge Basin, $8 million for the Lake Houston Dam Spillway Improvement Project, and another $10 million to construct another detention basin along Cedar Bayou. Crenshaw already secured another $1.6 million for final engineering of improvements to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/2/22
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