TACA Spells Out Industry Position on Societal and Environmental Benefits of Sand Mining

In several places on this website, I’ve talked about sand mines on the West and East Forks of the San Jacinto River. Now, the sand miners are talking about this website – in Austin – to state legislators via their trade group, TACA also known as the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association. 

Things You Never Knew About Sand Mines

Read the TACA White Paper On The Societal and Environmental Benefits of Sand And Gravel Mining. I’m publishing it here verbatim because it is not posted publicly on the group’s own website.

Fresh sand deposits after Harvey coming out of the sand mines on the west fork of the San Jacinto adjacent to Kingwood. Note that the height of the dune is engulfing several medium sized trees.

In the document, TACA makes direct references to photos and a presentation that appear on this website. “One might look at an aerial image or fly over these operations,” they say, “and errantly [emphasis added] speculate that these operations are a potential source of sediment in a stream or river.” Later they say, “…not all sand operator stock piles were flooded in the recent storm.” They also claim, “…sand operations help to mitigate flooding.”

Sand mine in Porter next to Caney Creek covers approximately 600 acres. This stockpile covers approximately 34 acres. Note erosion patterns from Harvey in this shot taken on 9/14/17. Thirty acres of Kingwood’s East End Park, just downstream from here, was covered with sand dunes up to ten feet high during Harvey.

TACA states that one of its objectives is to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship.

One of my objectives is to promote understanding.

Sand mines on the west fork of the San Jacinto adjacent to Kingwood. Note what appears to be a breach of the dike between the mine on the left and the river about two-thirds of the way up the left side of the photo. Also notice how close the dikes are to each side of the river bank. They leave little room to accommodate flood waters.

Sand mines on the west fork of the San Jacinto adjacent to Kingwood.

Harvey’s floodwaters breached dikes surrounding the sand mines on the west fork of the San Jacinto. This let sand escape. It was carried downstream and deposited in Humble, Forest Cove, Kingwood and Atascocita.

Please Read White Paper Carefully and Closely

I urge you to read The Societal and Environmental Benefits of Sand and Gravel Mining in its entirety and draw your own conclusions. I ask only that you read it very carefully and closely, as you would a contract, because in a sense, what we are talking about IS a social contract.

Sand mines are given a license to operate next to the source of drinking water for millions of people. Are these particular sand mines operating responsibly?

In upcoming posts, I will discuss research I’ve done into best management practices for sand mining.

Posted June 7, 2018 by Bob Rehak

282 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Surprise in Final Harvey Report

Yesterday, I published on this website the 32-page Final Hurricane Harvey Flood Report from Harris County Flood Control. Today someone asked me, “What was the biggest surprise in it?”  Talk about pressure! Harris County packed lots of meat into those 32 pages! I pondered the question all morning and connected the following dots.

Five Times the Average Flow of Niagra Falls

For me, the biggest surprises were the volume of water going over the Lake Houston Dam and where it came from. At the peak of the storm, the amount of water going over the dam exceeded the volume ofNiagra Falls on an average day by 5X. The final figures actually show more water than previously thought going over the spillway: 491,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) vs. 450,000 cfs previously estimated, an increase of almost 10 percent.

More Flow From East Fork than West

When you look at where all that water came from, there was another surprise. More came from the East Fork than the West! See page 12.

In the East Fork numbers, include Peach Creek, Caney Creek and Luce Bayou; In the West Fork numbers, include Spring Creek and Cypress Creek.

One Third of West Fork Flow Came From Lake Conroe Dam Release

Roughly 240,000 cfs came down the West Fork. Seventy-nine thousand cfs came from the release at the Lake Conroe Dam, according to SJRA estimates. So ONE THIRD of the water coming down the West Fork at its peak was from the release. That’s important for the following reason.

Previously, SJRA indicated the Conroe release was approximately 15 percent of all the water going into Lake Houston. While technically true, this observation clouds the picture of what happened on the West Fork. The West Fork sustained 2.5x more damage than the East Fork and the main body of the lake COMBINED. (See Page 14). Survivor interviews suggest that much of that damage did not happen until the release from Lake Conroe!

Conclusion: Multiple Mitigation Measures Needed

That extra 79,000 cfs underscores the need to:

  • Temporarily lower the level of Lake Conroe during the peak of hurricane season
  • Enhance the carrying capacity and velocity of the West Fork through dredging
  • Add upstream retention that helps offset Lake Conroe releases
  • Add flood gates to Lake Houston.

The last item would increase the release rate of the Lake Houston dam during a major storm. The additional discharge capacity of the ten gates proposed by Mayor Turner could easily equal the 80,000 cfs discharged from Lake Conroe, eliminating a bottleneck on the river.

Of course, if we get another Harvey, many people will flood. No surprise there. But these measures should help reduce the damage, and perhaps eliminate it when we have smaller events, such as the Tax and Memorial Day Floods of 2015 and 2016.

Posted 6/5/2018 by Bob Rehak

280 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Final Harvey Report Puts Flood in Perspective

Jeff Lindner, Director Hydrologic Operations and a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, just released a fascinating compendium of statistics: the Final Harvey Report. It contains everything you need to know to impress your friends, relatives and someday, your great, great grandchildren. When they’re sitting on your knee someday, you can tell them how you survived the greatest flood since Noah.

Ultimate Guide to the Wrath of Harvey

This is the Hurricane Harvey equivalent of the Baseball Encyclopedia. It contains scorecards for every part of the county. Hollywood could start a game show with this document – Wheel of Misfortune!

The Final Harvey Report details the catastrophic devastation from Harvey flooding that occurred all across Harris County. It also puts the storm in historic context and compares it to other previous record storms. Find statistics on:

  • House flooding by watershed and jurisdiction
  • Vehicle Damage
  • Rainfall statistics (duration, totals, intensity by location, probabilities, % over previous records, peak distribution)
  • Insurance claims and coverage
  • Channel flooding, stream flow and gage statistics
  • And more…much more

Did You Know? A Sampling of Statistics from Final Harvey Report

Volume of flows entering Lake Houston from the San Jacinto Watershed

Want to know the peak inflow to Lake Houston?   491,800 cubic feet per second.

How high was the peak flow over the spillway at the Lake Houston Dam? 425,000 cfs.

What is that equivalent to? 5 times the average flow of Niagra Falls.

What was the max rainfall in one hour? 6.8 inches!

What’s the expected recurrence interval for getting 6.8 inches again in one hour? 1500 years!

How many times were 1″-rainfall-in-15-minute alarms triggered during the storm? 336 times!

Of the 154,170 estimated homes flooded across Harris County only 36% had active flood insurance policies in place the day before Harvey…64% did not have flood insurance.

Of the 154,170 homes flooded 105,340 were outside the mapped 1% (100-yr) floodplain and were not required to have flood insurance. The 154,170 is between 9-12% of the total number of structures in Harris County.

Learn more. Read the full Final HCFCD Harvey Report,

Or check out the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of the subject.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/4/18

Day 279 Since Hurricane Harvey