Tag Archive for: Clean-out

Bens Branch Clean-out North of Kingwood Drive Already 40% Complete

As of this morning, Stuart Consulting Group (a project manager for Harris County Flood Control) estimates that clean-out of Bens Branch between Kingwood Drive and Rocky Woods Drive is 40% complete.

1500 Feet Complete from Upstream Starting Point

According to Jose Pedraza who works for Stuart Consulting, the contractor began work at the upstream/Rocky Woods Drive end of the site and is moving downstream. So far, they have completed about 1500 linear feet of work on both sides of the stream.

At the start of the project, surveyors found that accumulated sediment had severely constricted the conveyance of the channel.

Ben’s Branch at start of project in January. The area between the red lines filled with sediment since Friendswood first constructed the ditch in the 1970s.
Looking south from between Rocky Woods and Valley Way Drive. This is how the section above looks today from a drone. Photo taken 3/13/2021. Note Kingwood High School in upper right.
Farther downstream, looking east toward Kingwood Town Center in background. Contractors have just started working on this reach of the stream.
Looking back upstream toward the west and Kingwood High School, you can see same reach from the opposite direction.

Work to Date Has Included…

So far, the contractor has:

  • Conducted excavation and off-site disposal
  • Installed import fill, 3×5 granular fill, and grade 1 riprap
  • Graded channel side slopes on both sides of the channel for 1500 linear feet.

Expected Completion by July 4 or Earlier

Due to weather and other small delays, projected duration of the job increased from 150 to 168 days. Expected completion was extended to July 4, 2021. However, based on recent on-site inspection reports, work is now moving faster. So, with luck, the finish date may be pushed forward into June once more.

Preserving Property, Tax Dollars

Homes on both sides of this stream flooded during Harvey. So did Kingwood High School. The building flooded to the second floor. It suffered $67 million dollars in damages and lost another $10 million in contents.

Hopefully, this project will reduce flood risk. Conveyance of the channel had been reduced from a 100-year level of service to a 2-year level in some places. A 2-year level of service means that the creek will flood in a 2-year rain. The goal of this project is to restore the channel to its original conveyance capacity. That includes straightening, widening and deepening clogged parts of the channel.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/15/2021

1294 Days after Hurricane Harvey

HCFCD to Begin Next Phase of Ben’s Branch Clean Out in October

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and its contractors met today with representatives of Kings Forest, the Bear Branch Trail Association and Kingwood Service Association to discuss the next phase of the Ben’s Branch clean out. On the south, the project lies entirely within the Creekwood Nature Area between Kingwood High School and the old H-E-B shopping center. Rocky Woods Drive forms the northern extent of the project. This will extend northward the work already completed south of Kingwood Drive.

Project extent outlined in red. Kingwood High School is at bottom center; Town Center on right; Kings Forest on left and Bear Branch at top of frame.

Maintenance Objective: Restore Conveyance

The objective: to restore conveyance of Ben’s Branch and reduce potential for flooding in Kings Forest, Bear Branch, the Kingwood High School, and Kingwood Town Center.

The ground these men are standing on is all deposited sediment that needs removal to restore conveyance. The original channel bank is the higher slope behind them. The other side has a similar problem.

Sediment has restricted the flow of the channel gradually during the last three decades. It now contributes to flooding.

Tucked into the tree line on either side of Bens Branch, you can see the maintenance roads that formed the top of the original banks.

During Harvey, many homes on both sides of the stream flooded. Many also flooded again during Imelda.

Walking along the creek today, the first thing one notices is a craggy channel with sides that seem to have slumped into the stream. Flood control surveys, however, show that is not the case. The channel filled with sediment. Then the stream eroded down again through the accumulated sediment.

Continual cycles of deposition and erosion have clogged, deformed and narrowed the creek.

Approximately 15,000 Cubic Yards of Sediment To Be Removed

Getting the channel back to its original state will require removal of approximately 15,000 cubic yards of sediment. However, engineers have not yet determined the exact number.

The scope of work will include replacement of damaged drain pipes that carry water to the ditch.

The job is still in its planning stages. Actual dirt work should begin sometime in October.

Funded with Help from USDA NRCS

A grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help HCFCD fund the project. Contractors will haul the excavated dirt to nearby TCEQ-approved landfill sites outside of the .02% annual chance (500-year) flood plain.

Looking north. The project will NOT extend into the natural portion of Ben’s Branch at the top of the frame, near Rocky Woods Drive. It will affect only the man-made portion of the channel.

Downstream, the project will stop at Kingwood Drive. Note below how the channel under the Kingwood Drive bridge is virtually twice as large as the channel in the foreground.

Looking south over Ben’s Branch toward Kingwood Drive and the portion of Ben’s Branch restored earlier this year. Note how constricted the channel in the foreground is.

When complete, this project should make the channel north of Kingwood Drive as wide as it is south of Kingwood Drive. It’s all about getting the channel back to its designed carrying capacity.

An exact timetable for the project is not yet available, but it will take several months.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/4/2020

1102 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Before-After Shots of Clean-Out: HCFCD Restoring Conveyance of Taylor Gully In Elm Grove

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) is nearing completion of its project to clean out Taylor Gully. The project will restore the ditch’s conveyance through Elm Grove. The ditch had become clogged due, in large part, to erosion from months of clear-cutting and construction activities immediately upstream in the new Woodridge Village development.

After the Flood, but Before the Clean-Out

Below, several shots taken shortly after the May 7th flood.

Erosion on Woodridge Village property. Concrete culvert in background is entrance to Taylor Gully on Harris County side of Montgomery County Line.
Another shot of erosion leading to culvert, visible in upper right.
Looking north at same culvert from Harris County side of county line.
Flood debris carried downstream into Elm Grove portion of Taylor Gully
Shot taken at end of May looking south along Taylor Gully. Three weeks after the May 7 flood.

After the Clean-Out

What a difference some backhoes and bulldozers can make!

Looking south from same area today, but from opposite side of Gully. Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.
Re-contoured backslope swale with new culvert. Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.
Newly cleared Taylor Gulley Backslope Swale near the homes that flooded in North Kingwood Forest. Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.
Brand new backslope interceptor structure and improved swale by HCFCD located just north of Creek Manor where it dead ends into Taylor Gulley. Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.

These backslope interceptor swales reduce erosion, provide additional floodwater storage, and help prevent floodwaters from impacting structures.

One Month From Statistical Peak of Hurricane Season

Today is one month from the peak of hurricane season – September 11. Hundreds of people in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest will have an additional margin of safety thanks to HCFCD’s Taylor Gully project. Despite three months of near-perfect construction weather, Perry Homes’ contractors have only completed two of five planned detention ponds upstream. More on the construction status of Woodridge Village in my next post.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/11/2019 with photography from Jeff Miller

712 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 3 months + 4 days since the May 7th flood