Tag Archive for: construction sequencing

New Caney ISD Clearcutting Site of High School #3 Before Installing Detention

The New Caney ISD has removed a long swath of trees that separated Sorters-McClellan Road from the site of its new high school south of the Kingwood Medical Center. Removal of the trees – before the construction of the detention pond for the site – removes the last barrier between sheet flow and residents downhill.

Similarities to Woodridge Village

Clearcutting creates a condition similar to that of Woodridge Village. Woodridge contributed to flooding Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice last year after Perry Homes cleared the site before installing all the required detention. With nothing to retain runoff in a major storm, water could inundate Sorters Road and the homes on the opposite side of it in McClellan Circle.

This once again raises the question of whether contractors follow best practices for construction.

The site is in both Montgomery County and the City of Houston. But Montgomery County claims the City took the lead in permitting this site. MoCo claims it does not even have any drainage plans.

Looking south along Sorters Road at the site of New Caney ISD High School #3. Land slopes from left to right and foreground to background. Recently, contractors removed all trees next to the road. A large detention pond is supposed to be installed next to the tree line at the far end of the site. See below.

Building Pad Site Complete But No Detention Pond Yet

As of July 20, 2020, New Caney ISD had this to say about the project. “The site has been cleared and rough grading is at 90 percent completion.” Contractors have completed the building pad and will start installing the concrete piers concurrent with the underground storm and sanitary systems.

General plan for New Caney High School #3. North is left, east is up. Detention pond should be at far end of the photo above.

How Site Looked in June

Site of New Caney High School Number 3 as it existed in June, 17, 2020. Note the tree buffer between the site and Sorters McClellan road on the right that is now gone. So are all the trees within the site.

Steep Slope Accelerates Runoff

This approximately 50-60 acre site slopes toward the corner in the upper right by 10 to 15 feet depending on where you start. Sources: Google Earth Pro and USGS National Map Viewer.
USGS National Map Viewer still shows old par 3 golf course on which the new high school will be built.

This is a 5% slope compared to the 1.8% slope on Woodridge Village.

Comparing Google Earth Elevation Profiles

The steepness of the slope accelerates runoff in the absence of features to slow it down.

Current State of Site

Here are some more shots showing the current state of construction on the site.

Looking NW toward the Eagle Sorters Sand Mine in the top left.
Looking NE toward HCA Kingwood Medical Center and Insperity.
Looking SE toward retail establishments that front US59, barely visible in the top left of the frame.

There seem to be some berms in the corners of the property. They may slow down sheet flow in a large storm. But the berms are absent over the large area in the center where the high school building itself will go.

Peak of Hurricane Season 5 Weeks Away

Let’s hope they get the detention in before the next big storm. No one wants a repeat of Woodridge.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/4/2020

1071 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.

More Dirt on Perry Homes

Ken Matthews lives in a one-story house on Shady Maple Drive in Elm Grove about a block below the troubled Woodridge Village development in Montgomery County. Homes on Shady Maple Drive experienced severe damage during both the May 7th and September 19th storms. That damage has been linked to this development.

“Had I Waited One More Minute…”

Between 8 and 9 o’clock a.m. on September 19th, Matthews saw water rising quickly in front of his home. He made a split-second decision to evacuate his wife and child. By the time he packed them in his car, they barely escaped. Water filled the street that quickly. He said, “Had I waited one more minute, we would not have gotten out.”

Matthews had just moved back into his house days before. They had lived with a friend for months while finishing repairs from the May 7th flood. He and his family went to the same friend’s house to wait out the September 19th storm.

The Clear-Cut Difference

Clear-cutting accelerates the rate of run-off, contributes to flooding, and increases sedimentation as you can see in this video. Virtually the entire 268-acre Woodridge site had been clearcut by mid-August when work on the site mysteriously ground to a halt. But only about about a quarter of the detention ponds had been installed before September 19th – despite a more than a month of ideal construction weather before Imelda.

Video from Jeff Miller’s security camera several blocks east shows his street filling up with clear water at the same time Matthews evacuated. However, a short while later, at exactly 10:10 a.m., a wave of chocolate brown muddy water came cascading down the street in a sudden surge. That much muck could only have come from one place: Woodridge Village. With only 25% of the detention installed, 75% of the runoff had to go somewhere else. It went into the streets of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest.

When Matthews returned home, he found a thick layer of silt in his mailbox of all places.
Perry Homes’ check wasn’t in the mail, but apparently their dirt was.

Matthews said he did not join the lawsuit against Perry Homes subsidiaries and contractors after May 7th. However, he does plan to join the suit now. His home has just been wiped out for the second time in four months.

Even More Dirt

If you want to find more dirt on Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors, just go to the north end of Village Springs Drive next to Woodridge.

Dried muck at the end of Village Springs Drive next to Woodridge (beyond the silt fence in the background) reaches over the curbs.
Video shows muddy water flowing out of Woodridge at this location on 9/19/19. Photo taken on 10/4/19.

Significantly, Perry Homes has not lifted a finger to help the residents of Elm Grove. Instead it is suing them. This ranks as a new low in the annals of American corporate history.

Harris County Stormwater Rules Discourage Clearcutting Giant Sites All at Once

What do best practices in the development industry have to say about clearing such large sites all at once?

Harris County Stormwater Quality Management regulations discourage clearcutting giant sites like Woodridge Village all at once. See section, Stormwater Pollution Prevention (SWPPP) During Construction. The text states, “The clearing, grubbing and scalping (mass clearing or grading) of excessively large areas of land at one time promotes erosion and sedimentation problems. On the areas where disturbance takes place the site designer should consider staging construction [emphasis added], temporary seeding and/or temporary mulching as a technique to reduce erosion. Staging construction involves stabilizing one part of the site before disturbing another [emphasis added].

Of course, these are Harris County regulations and Woodridge Village sits in Montgomery County. Montgomery County has no comparable regulations posted on its website as far as I can tell.

Construction Sequencing Not Addressed In Construction Plans

Section 4.2.5 of the same Harris County document addresses Construction Sequencing. This section states, “The construction drawings should clearly state the designer’s intentions and an appropriate sequence of construction should be shown on the plans. This sequence should then be the topic of a detailed discussion at the pre-construction meeting (that must include the on-site responsible construction personnel) and then enforced by an appropriate inspection program throughout the construction period.”

That didn’t happen in Montgomery County either.

Another Conflict of Interest for LJA Engineering?

LJA Engineering plans that have become public to date do not address the sequencing of construction except for Phase 1 and Phase 2. (Curiously, they started Phase 2 first.) Nor was there adequate supervision during the months before May 7th. No sediment control measures, such as silt fencing, had been installed before then.

That’s a shame. Perhaps if they did, hundreds of homes may not have flooded on September 19th.

While searching the Montgomery County site for stormwater regulations, I was reminded that LJA Engineering manages the stormwater program and reporting for Montgomery County. LJA Engineering developed the plans for Woodridge Village, yet another apparent conflict of interest. LJA Engineering’s stamps are all over the hydrology plans for this development, too.

Perry Homes Gang Still Stalling Lawsuit, But Some Hope

Meanwhile, the Perry Homes gang is still stalling the Webster-Spurlock law suit against them. Two weeks after the judge in the case heard arguments in the motion to compel discovery, she still has not made a ruling.

However, there was some movement in the case last week. Lawyers for both sides agreed to keep all documents and depositions obtained during discovery confidential. Perry’s subsidiaries and contractors may have material that would embarrass the parent company if it became public. The court documents refer to “protecting trade secrets.” That sounds like convenient cover to me. How many trade secrets can there be about bulldozing dirt?

The intent of the order seems to be to keep documents away from the watchful eyes of the media, such as ReduceFlooding.com. On the plus side, though, lawyers tell me that sometimes such agreements may be a prelude to settlement talks. If this moves the case forward, I’m all for it. The flood victims desperately need help.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 5, 2019

767 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 16 since Imelda

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