Swollen San Jacinto East and West Forks Sweep Through Sand Mines
As floodwaters worked their way down the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto from last week’s heavy rains, they invaded sand mines on both rivers on Easter Sunday, 2023.
Up to 9 inches of rain fell in the headwaters of both rivers during 3 days from 4/5 to 4/7. Atlas-14 rainfall probability statistics indicate that equals a 5-year rain.
The Lake Conroe Dam intercepted much of the West Fork rain and is now releasing it at about 6400 cubic feet per second. There are no dams on the East Fork and the flooding there appears much worse.
West Fork Near Northpark South Development
Near the Northpark South Development on Sorters Road, the West Fork snakes its way through four square miles of sand mines. In the image below, the Hallett Mine on the right seemed secure. But the abandoned sand mines on the left and top center both opened to the river.
East Fork Near FM2090 on 4/9/2023
Normally, the East Fork at 2090 is about 30-40 feet wide – the size of the opening in the woods circled in red below. But today, the river swelled to about 2000 feet wide.
As the East Fork rose, it invaded the abandoned Texas Concrete Sand and Gravel Mine in Plum Grove.
Water entered the northern end, swept through the mine, and punched through the dikes on the southern end, carrying silt and sand with it. See sequence of pictures below.
Mine Fails to Meet Guidelines for Abandonment
This mine does not meet TCEQ guidelines for abandonment. The miners left equipment, including a dredge. They also failed to grade stockpiles, remove buildings, and plant grass. Yet somehow, the TCEQ gave them a pass.
This is the second time in less than two years that this mine has been inundated. The public will bear the cost of dredging all the sand carried downriver.
Ironically, a bill introduced by State Rep. Charles Cunningham requiring financial surety for sand mine reclamation remains bottled up in the House Natural Resources Committee. See HB1093.
I guess the miners need the money more than you do.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/9/2023
2049 Days since Hurricane Harvey
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