Lake Houston Dam

Flood Digest: Brief Updates on 9 Flood-Related Items

Below is a brief digest of nine items concerning flood risk in the San Jacinto River Basin. Many of the groups mentioned need public input on their recommendations before they move forward. So make your voice heard.

Flood Gate B/CR

Addition of More Flood Gates to Lake Houston: Engineers expect to have a Benefit/Cost Ratio (B/CR) worked out no later than mid-October 2022. The ratio depends on the alternative selected (i.e., quantity of gates, type of gate [crest vs. tainter], and gate location [spillway vs. earthen portion of dam]. The engineers need to balance upstream and downstream safety with benefits, costs and environmental impact. Finding the optimum balance is not simple. And any solution is likely to cost more than the original FEMA budget. Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin has had discussions with authorities at the state level about additional funding.

Lake Houston Dam
Engineers first examined more crest gates on the Lake Houston Spillway (left) and are now examining additional tainter gates in the earthen portion of the dam (right).

Related to San Jacinto River Authority

The SJRA could have its own digest this month.

  • Subsidence and Water Well Operational Costs: This hour-plus interview with Jace Houston on Hank’s Think Tank puts the Montgomery County Water Wars into perspective. Houston discusses the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA); its mission; contracts with municipalities and MUDs; rates of water usage in Harris and Montgomery Counties; aquifer recharge rates; how aquifer drawdowns escalate operational costs; how the SJRA got into the water treatment business and more. Whether water costs or subsidence concern you, it’s well worth watching.
  • SJRA Groundwater Reduction Plan Committee Meeting: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 – 11:30 A.M. Go in person if you would like to make a public comment or watch it online. This month, the invited guest speaker is Samantha Reiter, General Manager at the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.
  • SJRA Sunset Review: The Texas Sunset Act requires the Sunset Commission to periodically review SJRA and recommend whether to change state law to improve the authority’s efficiency and effectiveness. The Legislature ultimately will decide whether to adopt Sunset Commission’s statutory recommendations. The Sunset Commission also may adopt management directives for SJRA that do not require statutory change. The Sunset process has three stages: review; public meetings and input; legislative actions on Commission recommendations. The Staff report will be published in November 2022. Visit www.sunset.texas.gov to learn more and sign up for email alerts on the report.
  • Sedimentation: The SJRA is leading an Upper San Jacinto River Basin Regional Sedimentation Study. It needs your input! The SJRA has developed a sediment deposition dashboard that shows locations in watersheds with known issues. Do you know locations that experience sediment deposition? If so, email floodmanagementdivision@sjra.net. The SJRA would like to add them to its dashboard. What kinds of information are they looking for? Where the sediment comes from; where it builds up; what causes build-ups, etc. Both photos and text are welcome.
The San Jacinto West Fork has 20 square miles of sand mines in the 20-mile reach between I-45 and I-69.

Regional Flood Plan Open Houses

San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group Meetings on DRAFT Plan. The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group submitted its DRAFT Regional Flood Plan to the Texas Water Development Board on Aug. 1, 2022. Here’s my summary. The public is invited to provide feedback on the DRAFT Plan and learn more about flood risk, stormwater management, and flood mitigation projects in two upcoming open houses.

  • In-Person Public Open House: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine Dr., Houston, TX 77088.
  • Virtual Public Open House: Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Register here to receive Zoom access information).

For more information about the San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group or to provide comments on the DRAFT Regional Flood Plan, visit sanjacintofloodplanning.org. Here’s the group’s brief 2-page summary of the $30 billion plan.

Anniversary Updates

There were three major flood-related anniversaries this month that could also have their own digest.

  • Anniversary of Great Galveston Hurricane: After all the hoopla surrounding the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, most people missed the anniversary of the deadliest natural disaster in North American history. It happened on September 8, 1900. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storm killed more than 6,000 people, destroyed more than 3,600 buildings and pushed 15 feet of water ashore. It was so devastating that it reshaped the region. It caused people and businesses to move further inland to a then-tiny city called Houston.
  • Hurricane Harvey Mitigation Update: On September 2, I gave a talk at Kingwood College about Hurricane Harvey and the status of flood-mitigation efforts in its wake. It starts with a look back at the damage from Harvey. Then it covers why we flood. And finally, it discusses the status of approximately two dozen mitigation efforts. See it on YouTube at:  https://youtu.be/PjXX042NEPE.

Tropical Storm Imelda: September 17-21, 2019. Imelda dumped up to 43 inches of rain in some areas. Areas east of I-45 got hit much harder than areas west. The storm caused an estimated $5 billion in damage and flooded approximately 600 homes in Kingwood.

Homes on Village Springs in Kingwood were still recovering from a May 7th, 2019 flood when they flooded again during Tropical Storm Imelda in September.

And that’s your September digest.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/16/2022

1844 Days since Hurricane Harvey