Recommendations for Kingwood Diversion Ditch Improvements

Preliminary Recommendations for Kingwood Diversion Ditch Announced

On 3/6/24, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) revealed its preliminary recommendations for the Kingwood Diversion Ditch. The recommendations come out of a preliminary engineering report (PER) for the project. And HCFCD is still soliciting public comments.

Recommendations from Preliminary Engineering Report

HCFCD initially considered three alternative scenarios and dismissed one. It then spent most of last night’s meeting comparing the other two and discussing why it preferred one.

The proposed project alternative recommends:

  • Channel conveyance improvements to the Diversion Ditch
  • A diversion structure at the intersection of the Diversion Ditch and Bens Branch to take enough water out of Bens Branch to bring it up from a 2-year level of service to a 100-year level.
  • Bridge replacements at Kingwood Drive, Walnut Lane, Deer Ridge Estates Boulevard and the pedestrian bridge at Lake Village Drive
  • A new outfall to the West Fork San Jacinto River.

The bridges at Northpark Drive will also be rebuilt, but as part of the Northpark Expansion Project.

The ultimate goal of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch Project is to reduce the risk of structural flooding associated with the Bens Branch channel.


Improvements to One Channel Improve Another

The Kingwood Diversion Ditch is a man-made channel that was constructed prior to 1978. The channel diverted excess stormwater from Bens Branch and gave it an alternate route to the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.

The two channels largely operate as one unit. But HCFCD has room to expand the ditch and not Bens Branch. That’s because large portions of the Bens Branch Channel remain natural and are flanked by greenbelt trails, near and dear to the hearts of residents.

The Kingwood Diversion Ditch, however, has ample right of way and room for expansion. Even though, the Diversion Ditch operates at 100% of its design capacity, expansion of the Diversion Ditch can reduce the water surface elevation along Bens Branch without destroying the natural character of the stream.

The two alternatives that made the initial cut each recommended widening and deepening the Diversion Ditch channel. Exact dimensions/increases, however, will not become clear until final construction plans are developed.

Proposed widths for the bottom of the channel could vary from 10-80 feet. Top of channel widths could vary from 150-190 feet.

HCFCD said only that widths would vary along different portions of the channel and that, altogether both channels should be able to handle 100-year rains when the project is complete. The Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis revealed that portions of Ben’s Branch flooded in a 2-year rain.

The screen capture below shows benefits of the recommended alternative (#3).

HCFCD recommended Alternative #3 because of savings on maintenance.

Money Not Yet Identified to Fund Improvements

However, money does not currently exist to fund ANY of the three options. Almost seven years after Harvey, only $3.9 million has been committed. But costs are estimated at $54.5 million.

Screen capture from PER review meeting.

HCFCD emphasized that it always looks for funding. The District laid out a sequence of future events. Next steps:

  • Present the preliminary engineering report to commissioners court in two weeks.
  • Commission final design
  • Additional community engagement meeting
  • Secure funding
  • Begin construction

Need for Local Disaster-Mitigation Funding

The funding challenges, almost seven years after Harvey when the sense of urgency has dissipated, underscore the need for communities everywhere to plan for their own flood mitigation.

We can’t expect the federal government to ride to the rescue for every issue in every community. People in Kentucky don’t want to pay for our Diversion Ditch any more than people in Kingwood want to pay for a Diversion Ditch in Kentucky.

Still Time for Public Comment

You can see video of the meeting and the full presentation here. HCFCD will accept public comments through March 20:

  • At, or
  • Via phone at 855-925-2801 with Meeting Code: 6701

Northpark Phase II Meeting Tonight

Switching gears, the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority will hold a separate meeting tonight at the Kingwood Community Center from 5-7PM to discuss plans for the second phase of Northpark Drive Expansion. Hope to see you there.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/7/2024

2382 Days since Hurricane Harvey