Tag Archive for: channel widening

Widening of Hunting Bayou Kicks into High Gear

Widening of Hunting Bayou, one of the poorest and most flood-damaged watersheds in the county, is kicking into high gear.

Annual Rate of Spending Almost Quadruples since Harvey

According to data obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Harris County Flood Control District and its partners (mainly the Army Corps and City of Houston), spent $44 million on flood mitigation in the Hunting Bayou watershed between 1/1/2000 and Hurricane Harvey.

That averaged $2.4 million per year for those 18 years. However, in the 4 years since Harvey, HCFCD has spent $37 million – more than $9 million per year.

That rate of spending averages 3.75X higher after Harvey than before.

HCFCD Spending Data Obtained via FOIA Request

Here’s a breakdown.

From FOIA Request. Hunting Bayou flood-mitigation expenditures by time period and category since 1/1/2000 through end of third quarter 2021.

Focus of Current Construction Activities

The upstream portion of Hunting Bayou parallels the south side of Loop 610 for most of its length. Where North Loop 610 turns south, Hunting cuts under it between McCarty and Wallisville Roads. From there it continues east. It then turns southeast at San Pedro Street and eventually joins Buffalo Bayou and the Ship Channel.

Note width of floodplains in red box. HCFCD is now widening Hunting between the left and right boundaries of the box. From Harris County Flood Education Mapping Tool. Blue = 100-year. Green = 500-year floodplain.

Poor, Industrial, Flat, Flood Prone

The Hunting Bayou watershed has the second highest percentage of low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents in the county (69%) after Halls Bayou (71%) immediately to the north.

Hunting also is heavily industrialized with rail yards, tank farms, manufacturing, and shipping companies. The highest points of land are the railroad tracks. Within the red box above, you can see how they affect the flood plain.

After driving around the neighborhoods along Hunting Bayou for an entire day, it appears that the worst storm damage is in the red box above. Many homes are boarded up and abandoned in this area. Others have been elevated. Some have been renovated and are waiting for the next flood.

Current Construction Photos of Bayou Widening Efforts

HCFCD bayou-widening efforts focus on this area right now. They extend from US59 on the west to approximately Wayside Drive on the east. Bayou widening may be an understatement. HCFCD appears to be creating a long series of connected detention basins, some more than 450 feet wide and several city blocks long that narrow at bridges.

This should help drain water from nearby neighborhoods during heavy storms. See pictures below all taken on Sunday, 12/19/2021. They generally trend from west to east, starting at US59 and heading downstream.

Looking east at first of numerous ponds along channel of Hunting Bayou. Photographed from over US59. Loop 610 is in upper left.
Looking east over Hunting Street. Loop 610 on left. Note new hike and bike trails in this and other pictures below.
Looking east from Kashmere Street at a previously excavated area now covered with grass and newly excavated areas beyond it.
Looking east from over Wipprecht Street at work in progress.
Looking east toward Lockwood from Pickfair Street and one of the constrictions mentioned above.
Closer shot of constriction at Lockwood.
Looking east from Hutcheson Park
Opposite angle. Looking west over expanse of Hutcheson Park. Loop 610 on right.
Looking NE from the eastern end of Hutcheson Park, where Hunting cuts under 610.
Looking NE from over Loop 610 toward Homestead Detention Pond in background. Kelly Street cuts left to right through top of frame.s
Looking east from over Homestead at limit of current downstream work.

Funding Flows to Damage

Altogether, the current excavation work stretches 3.33 miles.

In the last five major storms (Allison, Tax Day, Memorial Day, Harvey, Imelda), 15,763 structures have flooded along Hunting Bayou. That ranks 7th among all Harris County Watersheds. But one must remember, that Hunting, comprises only 31 square miles. That ranks it 19th in size out of 23 watersheds. The damage per square mile ranked #2 (508.5 structures).

Another reason spending has accelerated here is political policy – namely the Equity Prioritization Framework implemented a year after the flood bond passed.

As with other watersheds, such as Halls, Greens, Brays and White Oak, it’s virtually impossible to grasp the scope of construction from the ground. That’s one reason why people in these watersheds complain they get no help from HCFCD when they are.

To learn more about this and other flood-mitigation projects in the Hunting Bayou watershed, visit this HCFCD page and click on the projects in the left hand column.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/19, 2021

1573 Days since Hurricane Harvey