Commissioners Discuss Colony Ridge, But Take No Position Yet

As the state legislature takes up what to do about Colony Ridge, Harris County Commissioner Tom Ramsey, PE, brought the issue up in the 10/10/23 session of Commissioners Court.

Screen capture of Ramsey starting discussion.

Ramsey Leads Off Discussion with Photos of Dramatic Erosion, Impacts

Ramsey presented dramatic photos of erosion coming from Colony Ridge. He also discussed how rampant erosion impacts areas downstream. He referred to:

Ramsey also reminded everyone that Lake Houston supplies drinking water to roughly 2.2 million people, about half the population of Harris County.

Next, Ramsey introduced a motion to determine how much a study would cost to learn how Colony Ridge drainage has impacted Harris County. Ramsey, an engineer by trade, limited his remarks to drainage and infrastructure issues, even though the state legislature is examining a much broader range of issues.

You can see slides from Ramsey’s presentation here.

Commissioners and HCFCD Director React to Ramsey

Ramsey asked Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to come back to the next Commissioners Court meeting with an outline and cost for a study that would determine the downstream impacts from Colony Ridge.

Dr. Tina Petersen, HCFCD executive director, said they hadn’t studied Colony Ridge but would do everything she could to come back to the next Commissioners Court meeting with a proposal for a study.

Then the scope of the task started expanding. Other commissioners, including Rodney Ellis, pointed out that Liberty County wasn’t the only upstream county impacting Harris County.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia asked whether Director Petersen could expand the scope to consider impacts from other counties. But Petersen said that would be impossible by the next meeting.

Because other upstream areas have similar issues, commissioners felt a regional approach might make more sense and funding might be available from the Texas Water Development Board to study the problem.

So, Commissioner Ellis suggested having Intergovernmental Affairs look into what other counties, including Liberty, are doing.

Judge Hidalgo called the other Colony Ridge issues being investigated by the legislature and Attorney General Ken Paxton “conspiracy theories.”

No Action Taken in Meeting, but Unanimous Agreement to Revisit Issue

In the end, the Commissioners voted to take “no action” on Ramsey’s motion in yesterday’s meeting. However, they also agreed to reconsider it at a future date when Commissioners have more information about the scope and costs of a study.

In the meantime, I’m not sure how much cooperation Harris County will get from upstream counties. In my opinion, other counties sometimes see lax enforcement of regulations as tools to attract development.

See the entire discussion. It lasted about 18.5 minutes from 5:04:25 to 5:23, and ended with unanimous agreement to revisit the issue at an unspecified future date.

If nothing else, this raises the profile of Colony Ridge issues in the state legislature. The bi-partisan nature of the meeting’s outcome and the focus on infrastructure issues may make Colony Ridge’s charges of racism much more difficult for the legislature to ignore.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/11/2023

2234 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Recommendations for Special Session of Texas Legislature on Colony Ridge

Today, the Texas legislature began another special session. On the agenda: Colony Ridge, the controversial Liberty County development in so many headlines lately.

Colony Ridge
Colony Ridge, the world’s largest trailer park, now covers approximately 20,000 acres, an area 50% larger than Manhattan.

During the last four years, I have published more than 60 articles about Colony Ridge. I have based them on countless drive throughs, flyovers, and interviews with residents, engineers and public officials.

I have seen with my own eyes, over and over again, many drainage and related infrastructure issues that the state legislature could address. In my opinion, the legislature should address the following.

Please forward this link to all your friends. Ask them to contact their state legislators in support of these recommendations.

List of Infrastructure Recommendations for Special Session

  • Get Liberty County to enforce its drainage regulations.
  • Protect downstream areas from Colony Ridge erosion by forcing the developer to comply with Liberty County regulations, including those that call for:
    • Planting grass on the side slopes of drainage channels and stormwater detention basins
    • Installing backslope interceptor swales and pipes to protect side slopes from sheet flow that causes erosion
    • Installing pilot channels along the bottom of detention basins
  • Tell TxDoT to fix FM1010, a vital evacuation route for tens of thousands of people.
  • Update state building codes to reduce squalor and make Texas eligible for more than a billion in FEMA BRIC funding which could help address Colony Ridge infrastructure issues.
  • Put teeth into the State Water Code Section 11.086 to ensure Colony Ridge and others provide adequate stormwater detention that helps protect downstream residents from flooding.
  • Create minimum drainage standards that:
    • Mandate use of Atlas 14 or latest FEMA rainfall rates
    • Require minimum detention rates of .55 acre feet per acre
    • Prohibit use of hydrograph timing surveys
    • Require “No net fill in current mapped 500-year floodplain”
    • Require minimum finished floor elevations of new structures above the 500-year flood elevation
  • Protect wetlands
  • Stiffen penalties for discharging sewage into waterways and ditches.

In addition, the state should:

  • Require local governments to preserve records and comply with TPIA/FOIA requests.
  • Prohibit “insider” business deals between elected/appointed officials and developers.

In regard to insider business deals, one of the Colony Ridge developers who controls the local MMD proposed giving a contract for almost $10 million to a paving company controlled by his family. I’m told the final figure actually approved was closer to $15 million. Shouldn’t the developer be responsible for that?

Why We Need Action

Everybody is downstream from somebody else. Or they will be someday. The purpose of the legislature is to develop rules that enable us all to live safely together. Colony Ridge issues affect people both upstream and downstream.

Downstream Impact

Downstream residents have had to pay tens of millions of dollars for dredging sediment in the San Jacinto River. Much of that sediment was contributed by Colony Ridge.

That sediment also contributed to flooding thousands of homes when it blocked the river.

Finally, the City of Houston is spending $1.77 billion dollars to build a water treatment plant that removes sediment and other pollutants coming into Lake Houston from Colony Ridge and places like it. And we spent another $381 million on the Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project to bring in water from the Trinity River.

So, we are spending more than $2.1 billion to bring in and clean up water that Colony Ridge is polluting. Stop the treadmill! Please!

Upstream Issues

Colony Ridge and Plum Grove residents have suffered, too. In addition to the drainage issues described in previous posts, here is a list of other infrastructure issues that a Colony Ridge property owner sent me:

  • Emergency evacuation routes limited and congested. Few ways in or out.
  • No street lights in most of the development.
  • No sidewalks
  • Kids are waiting for school buses on unlit street corners 
  • Aggressive dogs attack people when walking in the streets 
  • Minimal fire hydrants for our area
  • Cement plants in our neighborhood spew silica dust for miles without TCEQ or EPA permits
  • No school zone lights for school in Santa Fe 
  • Kids have no safe place to play outside due to unlawful discharge of firearms
  • Major traffic congestion; situation deteriorating 
  • Ambulances have trouble getting into area and back out to a hospital
  • Many missing street signs for traffic control (stop, yield, school zone, etc.)

Both Developer and Legislature Under a Microscope

It will be interesting to see whether the legislature actually does anything substantive about the infrastructure issues in Colony Ridge or whether they just deport a few people, declare a symbolic victory and continue accepting donations from the developer. Let’s be positive for now. Who thought things would ever get this far?!!!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/9/2023

2232 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Entire Texas Republican Congressional Delegation Urges Abbott, Paxton to Investigate Colony Ridge

A letter dated September 30, 2023, and signed by all 25 members of the Texas Republican Congressional delegation urged Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton to investigate numerous allegations related to Colony Ridge in an upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature. The Colony Ridge developer has already launched a charm offensive designed to defeat what it calls “scurrilous rumors and lies.”

Congressional Letter Suggests Scope of Investigation

The controversial Liberty County development has drawn media attention dating back to at least 2015. The letter by Texas Congressional Republicans refers to many of those. Allegations in the letter include:

  • “Owner-financed loans with no credit check or proof of legal residency, making the location an optimal haven for illegal aliens amid a historic border crisis.”
  • Public safety concerns, including creating a “no-go zone” for law enforcement
  • Sewage spills
  • Fecal contamination in drainage ditches
  • Significant erosion in drainage ditches leading to increased risk of downstream flooding
  • Adverse effects on neighboring communities
  • Unsuccessful local attempts to remediate issues
  • Lack of fire hydrants
  • Improvised living conditions
  • Water, power and flooding issues
  • Violent crime including several high profile murders
  • The largest drug busts in the history of Liberty County
  • Drug cartel activity
  • Overwhelming the Cleveland ISD with “thousands of illegal aliens.”

The letter concludes with:

  • A list of things that the Congressional Republicans have fought for at the federal level to make America secure.
  • A request for Abbott and Paxton to share the results of their investigations with Congress.
  • An offer to assist the state.

Since media attention to Colony Ridge has mushroomed, claims like those above have become harder and harder to brush off – especially in an election year, when Republicans have framed illegal immigration as a core issue.

To see the full, six-page, footnoted letter, click here.

Will Investigation be Instant Replay of Paxton Impeachment Trial?

Ironically, Paxton’s office will theoretically do the investigating. His recent impeachment trial centered around his relationship with a developer (but not this one). It will be interesting to see how/whether that affects this investigation. Only one thing is certain: Paxton, Abbott and Colony Ridge will be under a national spotlight.

Colony Ridge Developer Launches Charm Campaign

The developer also released a letter, one day ahead of the Congressional letter. (See below.) It calls the allegations “salacious lies and rumors.” It offered to give members of the Texas legislature tours of Colony Ridge in advance of the upcoming special session. I’m sure the tours will be heavily curated. For instance, I doubt they will:

  • Go down streets with horrific living conditions
  • Highlight their lack of fire hydrants
  • Show off sewage spills
  • Point out the bridge they blew out on FM1010
  • Highlight the repossession rate of property (I talked to one owner of a new lot who was the fourth owner.)
  • Tour eroded channels (that would require maintenance roads at a minimum).

Here’s the Colony Ridge letter.

Notice that the developer’s letter does NOT deny drainage problems.

Complies with All Regulations? Really???

I was not invited to the developer’s party. But any member of the Texas legislature who wants to see whether they comply with Liberty County regulations can consult these posts.

When I first started exploring Colony Ridge, I learned that Liberty County did not have construction plans, nor required drainage studies for many Colony Ridge subdivisions. And those that the County could supply underestimated the runoff from Colony Ridge by misrepresenting the soil types found there. The extra runoff blew out FM1010 which remains unrepaired as of this writing.

Colony Ridge also failed to meet fire-hydrant spacing and pressure requirements in the Liberty County Fire Code. I have ten fire hydrants on my block. At last count, Colony Ridge had 59 in an area 50% larger than Manhattan.

If you want to see an example of their “fully engineered” sewers, see this post. But hold your nose.

This post explores more Colony Ridge issues and impacts…

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 1, 2023

2224 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

2023 Legislature Scorecard on Flood Issues: 2 Wins, 4 Losses, 1 Toss-up

The 2023 legislature scorecard, just five years after Hurricane Harvey, shows that flooding is fast becoming forgotten in Texas. Of the seven issues I tracked, the Lake Houston Area had two wins, four losses, and one that could be ruled a coin toss depending on your point of view.

In the Win Column

Let’s look at the good news first.

HB 1: More Floodgates for Lake Houston

Due to last minute heroics, HB 1 contained enough money earmarked for more gates to keep the project alive. A last minute phone-call campaign by hundreds of citizens making thousands of phone calls to key state legislators in the House and Senate succeeded in getting riders attached to the budget bill.

Few projects have inspired more hope among residents in the northeastern part of Harris County than the one to add more floodgates to the Lake Houston Dam. The Lake Houston Area Flood Task Force identified the project as one of the top priorities for the area.

The idea: to release water both earlier and faster in advance of major storms to create more storage in Lake Houston. Right now, Lake Conroe can release water 15 times faster than Lake Houston. And the release from Lake Conroe during Harvey was widely seen as one of the contributing factors to the flooding of so many homes and businesses in the Lake Houston Area.

The governor signed HB 1 on 6/18/23. It becomes effective on 9/1/23. With funding secured, Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin says final design on the gates is proceeding.

Lake Houston Gates Project
Lake Houston Gates Project
SB 1397: TCEQ Reforms

The TCEQ was under sunset review this year. No one proposed eliminating the TCEQ. But many people had ideas to improve it. They focused on two main areas: increasing transparency and improving enforcement.

The Sunset Commission recommended measures to improve public outreach, public notices, community input, and dissemination of public information, including the publication of best practices for sand mining.

The Commission also recommended updating the TCEQ’s enforcement practices to better focus on the riskiest actors and ensure staff treat potential violations consistently and based on severity. 

Breach in dike of Triple PG mine remained open for months, sending wastewater into Lake Houston. Texas Attorney General is now suing the mine.

The governor signed SB 1397 on 6/18/23. It becomes effective on 9/1/23.

In the Loss Column

SB 2431/HB 5338: Gulf Coast Resiliency District

These companion bills would have transformed the Harris County Flood Control District into the Gulf Coast Resiliency District. The new District would have been governed by a board appointed by the Governor instead of management hired by Harris County Commissioners.

The idea: to create regional solutions that benefitted all residents of Harris County, not just those that scored high on an equity formula.

The County fought the bill(s) tooth and nail. Each failed to get out of committee.

HB 1093: Financial Surety Guaranteeing Sand Mine Cleanup

The bill died in the House Natural Resources committee. It never even got a public hearing.

This bill would have required sand mining companies to post financial surety that would guarantee cleanup of mines before they were abandoned. Abandoned mines on both the San Jacinto East and West Forks are littered with the remains of once thriving operations. But when the sand played out, the miners walked away, leaving a legacy of blight for the public to clean up.

abandoned dredge
Abandoned dredge in mine on North Houston Ave. in Humble. Property is unfenced so kids can play on equipment.
HB5341: Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District

This bill also died in the House Natural Resources committee. House Bill 5341 would have created a Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District. Its purpose would be to remove sediment, debris, sand, and gravel  from Lake Houston and its tributaries to restore, maintain, and expand the Lake to mitigate storm flows. 

SB 1366: Flood Infrastructure Financing

This bill died in the Senate Finance committee. Senate Bill 1366 would have redirected surplus revenue from the economic stabilization fund to the Flood Infrastructure Fund. The State’s Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) has turned into one of the main sources of funding for Texas Water Development Board grants and one of the main ways that smaller counties and cities can fund flood projects. 

Passed but Failed
HB 1540: SJRA Reforms

HB 1540 passed. The bill implements reforms recommended by the Sunset Review Committee for the the San Jacinto River Authority. Many of those are good and needed reforms. They include provisions governing:

  • Gubernatorial designation of the presiding officer of SJRA’s board of directors;
  • Specific grounds for removal of a board member;
  • Board member training;
  • Separation of the board’s policy-making responsibilities and the staff’s managementresponsibilities;
  • Maintenance of complaint information; and
  • Public testimony at board meetings.

Approval should have been a rubber stamp. But at the last minute, Rep. Will Metcalf from Conroe offered an amendment that effectively fired Jace Houston, SJRA’s general manager and leader of the SJRA’s fight to reduce subsidence. The amended bill passed the Senate. Houston resigned effective 6/30/23. And now the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has no one to challenge unlimited groundwater pumping in Montgomery County.

Some in the Lake Houston Area who flooded during Harvey may rejoice at Houston’s departure. But differential subsidence is tilting Lake Houston upstream. It could make the Lake Houston Dam two feet higher relative to areas upstream near the county line. That could eliminate the safety margin above the floodplain for many homes in the next big flood.

subsidence in Harris County
Modeling shows 3 feet of subsidence near Harris/Montgomery county line, but only one foot at Lake Houston Dam.

As someone who had floodwater lapping at his foundation, I personally would put this one in the loss column.

The governor signed the bill on 6/18/23. It goes into effect on 9/1/2023.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/2/23

2133 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

How a Controversial, Little Understood Definition Affects Flooding

The definition of “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) is changing again thanks to a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. It could put half of the nation’s wetlands in peril and that could significantly affect flooding.

The Ping-Pong Match over Wetland Protection

I first started covering the definition of WOTUS in January of this year in a story about Biden’s changes to Trump’s changes to Obama’s changes.

The WOTUS definition defines the areas subject to EPA clean water regulations. At issue: How far up in the branching structure of a river may the government enforce regulations? As far as it’s navigable? One level up from that? Two? Three? Infinitely?

Clarity is a good thing. But the last time I looked up WOTUS, the definition stretched for more than 100-pages. It has changed numerous times since 2015. And different government agencies follow different definitions. Complexity, change, ambiguity and conflict now give bureaucrats and developers almost unlimited power to interpret definitions as they see fit.

Local Example of Damage

For instance, when the developers of Woodridge Village clearcut their property, filled in wetlands and sent tons of sludge down Taylor Gully into Lake Houston, the question became “Were they acting legally?” The developer found no wetlands on their property even though wetlands were clearly indicated on the USGS National Wetlands Inventory.

Complaints piled into the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps found that, even though the property contained wetlands, the wetlands lay outside the jurisdiction of the Corps to regulate.

Resident examines massive erosion on Woodridge Village flowing down Taylor Gully into Lake Houston in 2019.

Bureaucratic Overreach?

The Trump-era definition, finalized in 2020, was long sought by developers who complained about federal overreach. They said the WOTUS definition stretched into gullies, creeks and wetlands on private property.

But Biden reversed the Trump definition and now the US Supreme Court has reversed the Biden definition. That makes the fourth time the rules have been reversed since 2015. Worse, the EPA and Corps use overlapping, but different rules.

And as far as I can tell, the limit of regulation does not vary with the magnitude of violation, a serious flaw in my opinion.

NYT Article Puts Most Recent Changes in Perspective

A New York Times essay by Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation summarized the most recent changes. Says Murphy, “The Environmental Protection Agency has long interpreted the Clean Water Act as protecting most of the nation’s wetlands from pollution. But now the court has significantly limited the reach of the law…”

The Court’s new definition hinges on the wetlands having “a continuous surface connection” to bodies of water such as streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. At least half of the nation’s wetlands could lose protection under this ruling, which provides an even narrower definition of “protected waters” than the Trump administration had sought, according to Murphy.

Congress has long failed to clarify language in the Clean Water Act that caused confusion among judges and put the law in the Supreme Court’s cross hairs.

Wetlands are nature’s sponges. They act as natural detention basins that hold back stormwaters and that has a direct impact on flooding.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who filed a concurring opinion in the judgment, acknowledged its impact, writing that it would have “significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States.”

How Revised Definition Could Affect Local Development

Need an example. Look no further than the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, where the developer is filling in and paving over wetlands…some immediately adjacent to wetland mitigation banks.

Colony Ridge Wetlands
Colony Ridge Wetlands
Colony Ridge wetlands being drained for development.

Many residents in adjoining communities such as Plum Grove and Huffman have complained bitterly about worsening flooding in their areas, which they attribute to such development practices.

I hope Congress can finally find a workable definition of WOTUS that protects public safety while allowing responsible development. The constantly changing definitions of WOTUS help no one.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/31/23

2101 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Jace Houston Resigns as SJRA General Manager Under Pressure from Subsidence Deniers

Jace Houston, the San Jacinto River Authority’s (SJRA) General Manager and point person on subsidence issues, resigned yesterday, 5/25/23, to avert a political war with Montgomery County subsidence deniers that could have taken down the entire SJRA board.

Houston had been with the SJRA for 16 years after spending 10 years with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District. While at the SJRA, the lawyer/engineer helped put together a Groundwater Reduction Plan that included 80 municipalities and municipal utility districts (MUDs) across Montgomery County. He also helped the SJRA construct a surface-water treatment plant on Lake Conroe.

Goals of Effort to Preserve Groundwater

The half-billion dollar plant supplies surface water to the major population centers in Montgomery County, such as Conroe, The Woodlands and Oak Ridge North. Converting the population centers to surface water preserved groundwater for less populated and rural areas where water pipelines become uneconomical.

When the plant came online in 2015, it also virtually neutralized subsidence (see below).

subsidence
When The Woodlands began using more surface water in 2016 after completion of a surface water pipeline, the rate of subsidence virtually leveled off.

The groundwater preservation effort proved effective at eliminating subsidence. It also helped water utilities avoid major costs associated with declining aquifer levels.

What costs? When water levels in wells drop, suppliers must move pumps deeper and use more electricity to pump water to the surface. In extreme cases, utilities may not be able to get water to the surface at all. Then they must drill new wells, often into deeper aquifers at hefty costs.

Declining well levels are especially worrisome in drought years when/where no alternative sources of water are available. Lack of water can limit population and economic growth as well as agricultural production.

However, preserving groundwater came at a cost. All members of the plan paid a fee to help pay for the surface water treatment plant even if they didn’t buy water from it. The need for such a plan became apparent more than 20 years ago, long before Houston joined the SJRA.

Need to Use Less Groundwater Validated by Legislature, But…

The Texas Leglislature validated the need to use less groundwater when it created the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) in 2001.

But in recent years, all that was forgotten. The LSGCD board denied subsidence was a problem and advocated unlimited groundwater pumping as a way to lower water costs.

In the meantime, subsidence has returned. So have water well declines.

As you can see below, since the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District began moving to deregulate groundwater usage, well levels have dropped significantly across the county, setting up a day of reckoning in the future.

Water-level changes in representative area wells. Source: Harris-Galveston Subsidence District 2022 Annual Groundwater Report.

A Shot Across the Bow of the Board

Undeterred by these signals, the City of Conroe and the LSGCD board took their fight to the state legislature. They got State Representative Will Metcalf of Conroe to propose an amendment to the SJRA Sunset Review Bill that would replace Jace Houston. The amendment passed and emboldened Metcalf, Conroe and the LSGCD.

The amended bill then went to the Senate Water, Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee where the Conroe/LSGCD contingent testified again. But Senator Charles Perry, the committee chair, talked his fellow members out of adopting their proposals.

However, during the committee debate, Senator Lois Kolkorst, who represents Magnolia, fired a shot across the bow of the SJRA. She suggested making SJRA board-member terms one year.

That would have been disastrous, according to one seasoned SJRA board member, “It takes a year just to learn the job,” he said.

After defeat of all suggested amendments in Perry’s committee, it didn’t take long for back-channel rumors to mushroom. A whisper campaign suggested that sympathetic senator(s) might offer the Metcalf amendment or a one-year board amendment when the bill came up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Within days, the SJRA called a special board meeting to discuss Houston’s employment. While Houston reportedly had many supporters on the SJRA Board, he ultimately chose to resign and avoid a political battle royal that could have damaged the SJRA.

Board Accepts Houston’s Resignation

An article in Community Impact quoted SJRA Board President Ronald Anderson as saying: “At today’s meeting, the SJRA board of directors received and reluctantly accepted a resignation letter from our general manager, Jace Houston. Jace has served with honor and distinction for almost 16 years and has made the SJRA one of the most respected water agencies in the state of Texas.”

Anderson continued, “Even through these recent circumstances involving the legislature, Jace has once again placed the best interests of our organization and customers above his own, and the board wishes him the best in his future endeavors, which we know will be marked by continued success.”

Houston will remain at the SJRA until June 30th. But even on his way out the door, he seems less concerned about his own future than Montgomery County’s water future.

Impact of LSGCD on Water Future of MoCo and More

When asked about the impact of the LSGCD moves, Houston predicted, “They’re not going to regulate the aquifers. They’re going to allow pumpage to increase significantly.”

Houston added, “A lot of great work has been done to put a program together that allows Montgomery County to be able to afford the future water supplies it needs. And all of that is at risk. This just puts the county’s future at risk. They don’t understand the science. LSGCD is just dead wrong on the science.”

Because aquifers flow toward the coast, depleting groundwater in Montgomery County affects Harris and Galveston communities as well. But Metcalf and the LSGCD board never seemed to consider the impact on neighboring counties even though Metcalf’s district represents only about one thirtieth of the population in the San Jacinto watershed.

Because of differential subsidence, the impact of unlimited groundwater pumping in southern Montgomery County could actually tilt Lake Houston toward the north. That’s because the Kingwood/Porter area would subside more than the Lake Houston Dam by about two feet. And that could put many homes near floodplains into floodplains.

Projected subsidence in the northern Lake Houston Area could be 3.25 feet.
subsidence in Harris County
Meanwhile, projected subsidence at the Lake Houston Dam would only be 1.25 feet.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) should release new, updated models later this year that could affect the rates shown approve (plus or minus).

In the meantime, for anyone who doubts the relationship between water-well declines and subsidence, USGS has published a 432-page scientific report on the subject based on 120 years of data from northeast Texas aquifers.

Houston’s resignation seems to have averted a San Jacinto showdown for now. But some fear this fight isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the Swamp Sinks.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/26/2023

2096 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Lack of Support in Legislature Putting Lake Houston Gates Project in Danger

Lack of support by the Texas State legislature is putting the project to add more floodgates to the Lake Houston dam in danger. Right now, money is not in the appropriations bill for the next two years. And if we have to wait for another two years, the initial $50 million committed by FEMA to the project will expire.

Call to Action

Please CALL the following elected representatives to voice your support for including $150 million for Lake Houston Floodgates in next year’s state budget. Also, get everyone you know to call.

At a minimum, call:

  • Governor Greg Abbott: (512) 463-2000
  • Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick: (512) 463-0001
  • Sen. Brandon Creighton: (512) 463-0104
  • Rep. Greg Bonnen: (512) 463-0729, Chair of House Appropriations
  • Sen. Joan Huffman: 512-463-0117, Chair of Senate Finance Committee
  • Sen. Robert Nichols: 512-463-0103

Other key decision makers:

  • Rep. Mary González – (512) 463-0613
  • Rep. Jacey Jetton – (512) 463-0710
  • Rep. Gary VanDeaver – (512) 463-0692
  • Rep. Armando Walle – (512) 463-0924
  • Sen. Lois Kolkhorst – (512) 463-0118
  • Sen. Charles Schwertner – (512) 463-0105

Remind Governor Abbott that when he toured Lake Houston after Harvey, he directed area leaders to develop long-range solutions that fixed the flooding problem. So…

Ask everyone to ensure funding for the Lake Houston Dam Improvement Project.

Here’s why.

Why We Need More Gates

After Hurricane Harvey, Lake Houston Area leaders identified adding more release capacity to the dam as one of the area’s top flood mitigation priorities. The inability to release water fast enough in advance of Harvey contributed to flooding 16,000 homes and 3,300 businesses.

If Lake Houston could release more water faster, authorities could wait until they were certain a storm would hit our area before releasing water. Releasing water would create more room for floodwater. But if the storm veers away and we release the water unnecessarily, it could cause a water shortage for 2 million people.

More gates would eliminate that risk/uncertainty.

Progress But Still No Permanent Solution

Rainfall this past week has demonstrated the problem once again. There was no tropical storm. No hurricane. No stalled front. Just widespread, sporadic downpours. Even with Lake Houston’s gates wide open and two feet of water cascading over the spillway, areas around the lake are still flooding.

River Grove Soccer Fields
River Grove Park on 5/16/23

It happens repeatedly.

January Flooding along west fork of San Jacinto
The first flood this year occurred in January.

And bigger storms can cause horrific damage.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed Union Pacific Railroad Bridge that parallels US59 in the headwaters of Lake Houston. The damage disrupted rail traffic in an out of Houston for almost three years.
San Jacinto West Fork at US59 during Harvey
US59 Bridge and Humble business district underwater during Harvey

Preliminary engineering studies showed that more gates could reduce flood levels significantly. FEMA appropriated $50 million to build them. But additional studies showed we need more gates that will quadruple the cost. We need $150 million more.

Support of Area Representatives and Organizations Not Enough

The state legislature is the only place to get that money before the FEMA grant expires. More than a dozen area organizations and elected representatives have already written letters to legislators in support of the project – to no avail.

Significantly, support comes from both upstream and downstream.

Montgomery County people want this project as much as Harris County people, because it would enable Lake Conroe to avoid seasonal lowering.

See letters from:

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, PE, to Governor Greg Abbott

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, PE, to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, PE, House Speaker Dade Phelan

North Houston Association to Governor Greg Abbott

North Houston Association to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

North Houston Association to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Partnership Lake Houston to Governor Greg Abbott

SJRA to State Senator Brandon Creighton

SJRA to Senator Joan Huffman

SJRA to Senator Charles Perry

Lake Conroe Association to Senator Brandon Creighton

Lake Conroe Association to Senator Robert Nichols

Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority to Governor Greg Abbott

City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin to Governor Greg Abbott

City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Harris County Flood Control District to Governor Greg Abbott

Harris County Flood Control District to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Harris County Flood Control District to House Speaker Dade Phelan

City of Humble Mayor Norman Funderburk to Governor Greg Abbott

Kingwood Service Association to Governor Greg Abbott

Kingwood Service Association to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Kingwood Service Association to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Greater Houston Partnership to the entire Houston Delegation

Kingwood Area Superneighborhood Council to Governor Greg Abbott

Kingwood Area Superneighborhood Council to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Kingwood Area Superneighborhood Council to Houston Speaker Dade Phelan

Humble ISD to Governor Greg Abbott

Humble ISD to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Humble ISD to Dade Phelan

Montgomery County Judge to Governor Greg Abbott

Montgomery County Judge to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Montgomery County Judge to Senator Brandon Creighton

Montgomery County Judge to Senator Lois Kolkhorst

Montgomery County Judge to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Montgomery County Precinct 4 to Governor Greg Abbott

Montgomery County Precinct 4 to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Montgomery County Precinct 4 to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Greater East Montgomery County Chamber to Governor Greg Abbott

Greater East Montgomery County Chamber to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Greater East Montgomery County Chamber to House Speaker Dade Phelan

Time for Residents to Add Their Voices

At this time, we need to start a telephone campaign by residents. NOW! This session ends in days.

Please voice your support for the project by calling the offices of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Senator Creighton, and Rep. Greg Bonnen, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Ask them to add $150 million for more Lake Houston floodgates in next year’s state budget.

You could make the difference.

Posted By Bob Rehak on 5/17/2023

2087 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Amendment to H.B. 1540 Could Force Changes in SJRA Management

H.B. 1540 passed in the Texas House on Friday, April 28, 2023. The bill concerns recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission affecting the board of the SJRA.

However, Representative Will Metcalf from Conroe offered a last-minute amendment from the House floor that would effectively fire Jace Houston, the SJRA’s general manager, who reports to the board. The amendment has the potential to upset the delicate balance between upstream and downstream interests mandated by the Governor after Harvey.

The senate version of the bill does not include Metcalf’s amendment. So, this fight isn’t over yet.

Let me cover the bill, the amendment, and implications in that order.

Key Provisions of H.B. 1540

The House analysis summarizes key provisions of H.B. 1540. It revises provisions governing SJRA. It implements – across-the-board – all Sunset Advisory Commission policy recommendations relating to the following:

  • Gubernatorial designation of the presiding officer of SJRA’s board of directors;
  • Specific grounds for removal of a board member;
  • Board member training;
  • Separation of the board’s policy-making responsibilities and the staff’s management responsibilities;
  • Maintenance of complaint information; and
  • Public testimony at board meetings.

The bill also provides for the transition to the new training requirements for current board members. Significantly, it also adds an additional member to SJRA’s board of directors, decreases the length of a member’s term from six years to four years, and provides for the transition to this new membership and term length.

H.B. 1540 would require at least four of the seven SJRA board members to reside in Montgomery County.

H.B. 1540 requires SJRA’s board of directors to develop and implement a comprehensive policy that provides a structure for public engagement in advance of major actions and projects. The policy must include a clear and detailed description of how SJRA will seek to actively engage stakeholders, including the possible use of the following:

  • Advisory committees;
  • Community panels;
  • Town hall meetings;
  • Surveys;
  • Other strategies on a recurring basis.

General-Manager Amendment

After the bill was voted out of the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Metcalf offered an amendment on the House floor that surprised Committee Chair Tracy King.

Rep. Will Metcalf
Rep. Metcalf from Conroe

The terse amendment requires that the board appoint a new SJRA General Manager within 30 days who hasn’t been employed by the SJRA as general manager within the last six months. It’s a dagger in Jace Houston’s back.

Chairman King spoke against the amendment, but in the end voted for the bill. King stated that the amendment tried to usurp the Governor’s authority. He pointed out that the Governor appoints the board and that the board hires the general manager. The legislature should not get in the middle of that, he said.

Why Try to Fire Houston?

During Metcalf’s testimony, he complained bitterly about SJRA’s:

  • Water rates
  • Groundwater reduction plan
  • Water treatment plant
  • Insistence that the City of Conroe uphold its SJRA contract
  • Seasonal-lowering policy of Lake Conroe that protects downstream residents
  • Battles with the Lonestar Groundwater Conservation District over subsidence.

As SJRA General Manager, Jace Houston has played a prominent role in all these controversies.

Let’s Go to the Videotape!

If you want to watch how this debate unfolded, here’s a link to the Texas House proceedings on H.B. 1540 and Metcalf’s amendment.

  • Discussion starts around 2:27:15.
  • Rep. Metcalf introduces his amendment at 2:28:20.
  • Chairman King raises a point of order against the amendment at 2:29:10. He says the amendment is not germane to the subject of the bill. Then there’s a long break in the action while they confer on the point of order.
  • At 2:41:10, discussion resumes. King has withdrawn his point of order and rises to speak in opposition to the amendment. Metcalf follows him. Then they hold a vote. The bill passes with the amendment.
  • At 2:47:50, discussion moves to the next bill.

Amended Bill Overwhelmingly Passes, But…

The House bill passed with 145 Yeas, 2 Nays, and 1 Present but not voting. However…

Four days earlier, on 4/24/23, the Senate passed S.B. 2586, an identical companion bill (minus the Metcalf amendment). It’s now in King’s House Natural Resources Committee.

That means the bill could go to a conference committee to iron out the difference and find a compromise. Then the House, Senate or both will have to vote on it again. Exactly one month remains in this session.

In the meantime, you can bet heavy-duty politicking will happen in Austin.

What’s Next? 

Does the Senate have the appetite to engage in a local water war this late in session? 

Will Senator Brandon Creighton whose district now includes Lake Conroe intervene?

Will Jace Houston fight to stay? Or will he throw in the towel? 

Is Metcalf trying to scare the SJRA into concessions?

Will the Governor weigh in? Stay tuned.  

San Jacinto River Basin

The San Jacinto river basin encompasses more than 5,000 square miles and 6.4 million people in 11 counties.

Yet Representative Metcalf seems concerned with only a small portion of them. Montgomery County has a tenth of that population in only a 1,000 square miles. And Metcalf represents only part of Montgomery County and a third of its population. Yet Mr. Metcalf seems to want to manage the SJRA for the benefit of 1 out of every 30 people in the watershed.

Last session, he introduced a bill that would have prohibited any downstream representation on the SJRA board. Luckily, it failed.

The San Jacinto river basin is much larger than Conroe, Metcalf, and his district.

That point seems to have eluded everyone who voted for Metcalf’s amendment. I hope calmer minds prevail.

Had this vote happened after Harvey, I think few would have defended the SJRA or Jace Houston. But since then, I have seen a concerted effort to find balance between upstream and downstream interests, as the Governor directed.

Metcalf’s amendment could potentially tilt the balance back upstream, the way it was before Harvey. We just don’t know. The uncertainty worries me. Will we be saying goodbye to lake lowering and hello to more subsidence?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/29/2023

2069 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Five Pieces of Legislation That Could Reduce Flooding

Currently in Austin, there are five pieces of pending legislation that could reduce flooding in the Lake Houston Area, Harris County and the entire region. Here’s a rundown on each.

SB2431 and HB5338

Senate Bill 2431 and House Bill 5338 are companion bills that would transform the Harris County Flood Control District into the Gulf Coast Resiliency District with a board appointed by the governor. This would take the District out from under the thumb of Harris County Commissioners court.

The net impact could be a fairer distribution of funds to the areas hardest hit by flooding and a regional focus that reduces flooding for all, not just those in Democratic precincts.

Of the 18 active capital improvement construction projects currently underway by HCFCD, not one is in the last remaining precinct led by a Republican commissioners in Harris County. See below.

Active capital improvement projects
Source: Harris County Flood Control District Active Construction. Note absence of purple dots in Precinct 3 (pink area).

The yellow precinct on the west side of the county (P4) used to be Republican-led until this January. It has only one capital improvement construction project.

The other 17 active capital improvement construction projects are split between the two precincts led by Democratic Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia.

HB1093

After Harvey, both the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto River became clogged with sand. Sand mines along the banks of rivers were large contributors.

House Bill 1093 would ensure that when sand mines are played out, the operators have enough financial reserves to clean up the property and replant vegetation before walking away.

Some miners simply abandon property, leaving rusting dredges, excavators, bulldozers, processing equipment, and more to litter the landscape. Likewise, they are supposed to regrade property to eliminate stockpiles that could be swept away in floods. And they are supposed to replant vegetation that could reduce the rates of erosion. But not all do.

HB1093 would force miners to provide financial surety that guarantees cleanup won’t fall on the shoulders of taxpayers. Surety is a common practice in the construction trades. Think of it as a form of insurance. If the miner can’t afford reclamation, the surety company is on the hook, not ordinary citizens.

Without this bill, some irresponsible miners will continue littering the shores of our rivers – the rivers that provide drinking water to 2 million people.

abandoned dredge
Dredge left at abandoned West Fork sand mine on North Houston Avenue in Humble.

HB5341

House Bill 5341 would create a Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District. Its purpose would be to remove sediment, debris, sand, and gravel  from Lake Houston and its tributaries to restore, maintain, and expand the Lake to mitigate storm flows. 

After Harvey, the Army Corps of engineers recommended a regular maintenance dredging program to reduce future flooding. This is it.

The District would have a board appointed by Harris County Commissioners, the Houston City Council, the Houston Mayor and the Harris County Judge.

The District would remove debris under and on the water of Lake Houston and its tributaries, but would be prohibited from doing so in such a way that it would impact water quality or water treatment costs. Dredgers would have to obtain approval from Houston Public Works before conducting any operations.

They could take sand and gravel from Lake Houston and its tributaries without paying a fee or tax.

Before beginning operations, the District would also conduct a funding study. Presumably at a minimum, that would estimate how much money it could make by selling dirt removed from the lake. Such dirt could be used as fill to raise homes and roads.

The District would also have authority to issue revenue bonds and could receive up to $25 million per year for the next two years from the state during that start-up period. It could not impose any taxes or fees.

East Fork Mouth Bar Dredging
Removing part of the East Fork Mouth Bar during dredging operations in 2022.

SB1366

Senate Bill 1366 redirects surplus revenue from the economic stabilization fund to the Flood Infrastructure Fund. The State’s Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) has turned into one of the main sources of funding for Texas Water Development Board grants and one of the main ways that smaller counties and cities can fund flood projects.

FIF covers a wide variety of projects related to flood mitigation and resilience.

Because both revenue estimates and budgets are still in flux, it’s unclear at this point exactly how much would be transferred, according to Senator Brandon Creighton’s office. Creighton sponsored this bill.

Check back often for more about legislation that could reduce flooding.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/12/2023

2053 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Lawmakers Propose Transforming HCFCD and Its Management

Bills proposed in both the Texas House and Senate could transform the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) into the Gulf Coast Resiliency District (GCRD). The proposed legislation would make the management of the GCRD a board appointed by the Governor instead of Harris County Commissioners Court.

Senator Paul Bettencourt introduced SB2431 and Representative Dennis Paul introduced its companion bill, HB5338, in the House. Both go back to the enabling legislation for HCFCD in 1937 and change the original language in key places. For example:

  • “Gulf Coast Resiliency” replaces “Harris County Flood Control.”
  • “The bounds of the district” replaces “Harris County.”
  • “The Board” replaces “Commissioners Court.”
  • “Presiding officer” replaces “County Judge.”

Check out the bill language yourself by clicking on the links above. Virtually all HCFCD capabilities and functions remain the same. GCRD can issue bonds, build projects, partner with other entities, and acquire property as it always has.

The big change: the governor-appointed board would manage GCRD instead of Harris County Commissioners.

Why These Bills Would Benefit Harris County

While local control is normally a good thing, excessive political interference can also hinder professionals in the performance of their duties. And in fact, that has happened in Harris County. Below, I discuss eight distinct performance-sapping issues I have observed under the current administration.

1. Limited Purview of Some Harris County Commissioners

Language in both the 1937 enabling legislation for HCFCD and the 2018 flood bond let HCFCD acquire land and build projects in neighboring counties. This is necessary because floodwaters do not respect political boundaries. We need a regional approach to solve watershed-wide problems.

However, Commissioner Rodney Ellis has blocked virtually all such efforts and his Democratic colleagues have gone along with him.

Ellis rarely misses an opportunity to express his regret over letting HCFCD purchase the Woodridge Village property on the Montgomery County line. It contributed to flooding up to 600 homes in Kingwood/Harris County twice in 2019. Since acquiring the property in 2021, the county has spent less than $1,000 to build a flood-mitigation project on it.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to projects inside the Beltway where most of Ellis’, Garcia’s and Hidalgo’s constituents live.

2. Undermining Regional Cooperation

Ellis’ stonewalling of projects across county lines also cut the legs out from under an HCFCD/Engineering Department program called Fix Flooding First.

The program proposed five “minimum drainage standards” for adjoining counties draining into Harris County. The only inducement Harris County could offer neighboring areas to cooperate was flood-bond money for partnership projects.

Without that incentive, neighboring counties, such as Montgomery and Liberty, have been slow to upgrade their drainage standards. And predictably, areas in outlying parts of Harris County have suffered as a result of insufficiently mitigated development projects upstream.

3. Punishing Republican Areas

Democrats Ellis, Garcia, and Hidalgo have consistently steered 2018 flood-bond money away from areas on the periphery of the county. This has punished political opponents.

For instance, not one capital-improvement construction project is currently underway anywhere in Precinct 3. P3 is the last remaining precinct led by a Republican in Harris County.

Screen Capture from HCFCD Active Capital and Maintenance Construction Projects on 4/8/2023. Purple dots represent capital construction projects. Orange represent maintenance projects. Precinct 3 is pink area.

4. Minimizing Flood Risk in Funding Formulas

Having spent billions of dollars since 2000 to mitigate flood risk in Low-to-Moderate-Income areas, Harris County’s Democratic majority now seeks to de-emphasize flood risk in its funding formula.

They have also eliminated common-sense metrics such as flood damage, deaths, depth of flooding, and protection of infrastructure such as schools and hospitals when scoring projects.

Flood risk now accounts for only 20% of project scoring. Non-flood-related factors such as income, population and ethnic origin account for 80%.

Using this system, projects in areas with 50-year flooding could get funded before those with 2-year flooding. But that seems to be the way the Democratic majority wants it.

5. Exhausting Local Dollars to Avoid Waiting on Federal Dollars

Roughly $2.5 billion – half the money for 2018 Flood Bond Projects – originated locally. And about a third of that was designated to attract matching funds. For instance, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development often pays up to 90% of projects, but it requires a 10% local match.

This leverage could have doubled the funds available for Harris County flood-mitigation projects. But two catches existed:

  • HUD prioritizes projects in low-to-moderate-income areas.
  • HUD money takes longer to work its way down from Washington to Austin to Harris County.

So the Democratic majority simply voted to eliminate any partnership funding from its scoring matrix – despite the fact that historically, almost a third of Harris County flood-mitigation funding has come from partners.

Instead of waiting on HUD, Democrats started using local money in LMI neighborhoods. Now there may not be enough money to cover projects in predominantly Republican neighborhoods like Kingwood, Spring, Cypress and Huffman.

6. Falloff in Partner Funding

When Commissioners voted to plow ahead with local dollars instead of waiting on Federal dollars, they said they would continue to seek partner funding wherever possible.

But almost two years after the GLO announced Harris County would get $750 million in funding, the County still hasn’t submitted a complete plan for how it would spend the money. In fact, it changed its plan twice in the last month.

Problems like these do not inspire partner confidence. And it shows.

Grants by month since approval of flood bond in August 2018. Data obtained via FOIA request from HCFCD.
7. Slowing Progress on Flood-Mitigation Projects

Political interference in HCFCD has led to 100% turnover in the executive ranks of HCFCD under County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Data obtained from HCFCD via FOIA request. Decline coincides with departures of key executives.

The flood bond passed in the third quarter of 2018 when Russ Poppe, Matt Zeve and Alan Black led HCFCD.

Under their leadership, spending more than doubled in a year a half as they launched 136 projects.

Then in 2021, Poppe, the executive director, resigned after relentless backbiting in Commissioners Court over made-up equity issues. Zeve, the deputy executive director, resigned in January 2022 under similar circumstances. And Alan Black, operations manager (and later acting director), left later that year.

This slowed down HCFCD performance and placed the entire county at higher risk.

Preliminary data for the first quarter of 2023 indicate that spending could decline even more radically this year.

The turnover issue is not limited to HCFCD. It’s endemic. Under Lina Hidalgo, the heads of virtually every Harris County department have turned over – some as many as six times!

8. Equity Obsession

Commissioners had criticized the executives for not spending enough money in minority and low-income areas. In fact, HCFCD was already spending as much in eight watersheds with LMI-majority populations as they were in all 15 others combined. See below.

Flood bond spending in LMI-majority watersheds versus all others from 2018 through 2022.
Spending compiled from HCFCD December 2022 Flood-Bond Update. HCFCD has released no additional updates since then.

Still unhappy, Democrats have had to think up new ways to send even more projects to their constituents inside the Beltway.

Hence, the constant revisions to the equity scoring matrix. According to several former employees, the revisions have led to starts, stops, wasted work, frustrations and delays. These contribute to slowdowns and keep flood risk high.

Benefits to Citizens

An article by Holly Hansen in the Texan quotes Rep. Paul on why he introduced the companion bill to Bettencourt’s in the House. He cites Harris County’s mismanagement, lack of progress, and the politicization of infrastructure planning.

Solving these problems will reduce flood risk, increase productivity, and save taxpayer dollars.

Those don’t seem important under the current leadership in Harris County. Can we afford to wait another four years for a change in administration?

Normally, I favor local control. The more, the better. But with HCFCD, that local control has failed us. That’s why I wholeheartedly support these bills.

If you agree, please consider showing your support. Email Senator Bettencourt and Representative Paul.  The more they hear from people, the more motivated they will be to pass the bill.

Posted by Bob Rehak on April 10, 2023

2050 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.