9/25/23 – Approximately 425,000 people live in the 204 square mile Cypress Creek watershed which has severe repetitive flooding. At a press conference this morning, County, State and Federal officials announced $50 million in funding for a massive complex of stormwater detention basins on Cypress Creek at T.C. Jester Blvd. to help protect those people.
The basins will span approximately 150 acres on both sides of T.C. Jester and include 1200-acre feet of planned stormwater detention capacity, wet bottoms, and recreational trails.
The existing pond covers approximately 2 acres and the new areas will cover more than 150.
Thanks to County, State and Federal Governments
The $50 million will come from three primary sources:
State Representative Sam Harless secured $12 million in State of Texas funding.
Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Tina Petersen also reminded everyone of the money designated for Cypress Creek in the Flood Bond, which was considerable.
The GLO/HUD money has been requested but not yet confirmed although all indications are positive at this time. GLO Commissioner Dawn Buckingham has committed to making sure that people in all parts of Harris County benefit from the $750 million.
Timetable and Project Scope
HCFCD Director Dr. Petersen addressed the next steps in the projects. “A portion of the projects on the east side of T.C. Jester will start construction in the next 6 to 9 months. The remainder should go into construction no later than the end of 2024. So we’re going to see these projects move quickly. This type of progress would not have been possible without the critical funding that our Congressman and Representative secured “
The overall project includes three stormwater detention basins within a broader footprint. Two basin compartments are on the east side of T.C. Jester Boulevard and another is on the west side.
Excavation of the west side basin (see below) has already begun under an E&R (Excavation and Removal) Contract. A private contractor is removing the dirt, almost free of charge, then selling it at market rates to recoup costs and make a profit. An estimated 120,000 cubic yards of material has already been excavated to date.
The contractor began removing dirt in the general area to get a head start on construction, even before final design of the basin. The final design will begin soon.
Each basin will have a wet-bottom with maintenance berms, side slopes and high banks along the outside.
Construction for all basins should begin no later than Q4 2024. They have estimated 8-month construction timelines.
Extent of Benefits
The three stormwater detention basins will work together – taking stormwater from the main stem of Cypress Creek and holding it until water levels recede on the main stem.
The projects will also have recreational benefits such as hike and bike trails.
Director Petersen stated that the projects will primarily benefit the local area, i.e., benefits will not extend very far downstream. The 1200 acre feet will likely take several thousand homes out of the floodplain.
Even though those homes will be in the Cypress Creek area, 1200 acre feet being held back upstream is 1200 acre feet that won’t be in the living rooms of Lake Houston Area residents during the next big flood.
More to Come
Ramsey also pointed to more projects to come, though he didn’t elaborate. He said, “This is $50 million of the $100 million that will be spent over the coming months in the Cypress watershed. So hold on. We’re getting started. This isn’t the end. This is the beginning.”
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/25/2023
2218 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/20230925-RJR_2415.jpg?fit=1100%2C733&ssl=17331100adminadmin2023-09-25 17:58:212023-09-25 22:11:13Funding Announced for Massive Detention-Basin Complex on Cypress Creek
$1.83 – San Jacinto River Wastewater System Replacement
$4M – Kingwood Diversion Channel/Walnut Lane Bridge
$1.12M – FM1488 Area Street Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Project
$3M – Tamina Economic Development Planning Project
$7M – Ford Road Improvement Projects
$700,000 Montgomery County Bridge Project
A committee also approved a request by Crenshaw NOT related to flooding – $1.65M for the Montgomery County Active Shooter Defense Training Facility. That means all 10 of Representative Crenshaw’s 2024 requests received funding, although not all received the full amount requested.
For descriptions of all 10 earmarks requested by Crenshaw, see below.
Purpose: To reduce flood risk in the Kingwood area. This area experienced widespread flooding from recent storm events, including Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. This project will create a detention basin and improve stormwater conveyance to minimize flood risks. Engineering studies show that completion of this project will result in substantial reductions in flooding along Taylor Gully. The studies show that this project will remove the 100-year floodplain from more than 276 structures and 115 acres of flood area.
2. Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements and Stormwater Detention Project
Purpose: This project is designed to reduce flood risk within the Goose Creek Watershed by creating a detention basin and improving stormwater conveyance. The project is estimated to remove approximately 28 acres of inundated land, up to 77 structures, and 1.44 miles of inundated roadways from the 100-year event. Preventing flooding will avoid the need for more costly recovery efforts after flooding events.
Purpose: Reconstruction of multiple poorly paved roads in subdivisions throughout the Highlands, Crosby, and Huffman areas of northeast Harris County. Existing gravel roads and inadequate drainage will be replaced with asphalt pavement, driveway culverts, and roadside ditches that will greatly improve residents’ quality of life. The projects will also improve accessibility for law enforcement and emergency services, reduce flood risk, and bring the local infrastructure to a standard acceptable for long-term County maintenance.
4. San Jacinto River Wastewater System Replacement Project
Purpose: To increase the reliability of the San Jacinto River Authority Woodlands Division wastewater conveyance system and repair damage from recent storms. List stations were damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey and have yet to be repaired. Both on-site lift stations, the control building, and the emergency generator were flooded and need to be replaced. This request would fund the demolition of the existing structure and build new systems.
5. Kingwood Diversion Channel – Walnut Lane Bridge Project
Purpose: The project includes the widening and reconstruction of Walnut Lane Bridge in Kingwood. This bridge, in its current configuration, will restrict flood flows unless widened to accommodate the future expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Channel currently being designed by the Harris County Flood Control District. The purpose of the overall project is to route drainage from Montgomery County to Lake Houston and reduce flood damage to residents of Kingwood along Bens Branch. The funding is needed to construct improvements needed to facilitate the expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and rebuild the Walnut Lane Bridge.
6. FM1488 Area Street Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Project
Purpose: The project will fund roadway resurfacing, drainage improvements, and storm sewer upgrades of roadways connecting to FM1488 near IH-45 (southern part of Conroe). The City of Conroe has experienced severe weather and rainfall which causes considerable wear and tear on the roads and drainage network. The project will benefit residential areas, including the Arella Forrest at Woodland Senior Living Center and Stillwater neighborhood. It will also improve access to the WG Jones State Forest, which serves a community located in a Historically Disadvantaged Community Tract.
Purpose: The Tamina area is not served by modern street and stormwater management systems. The streets are in disrepair and the area drains very poorly, creating an elevated risk of flooding. The first phase of economic development planning, which this request would support, is to complete detailed engineering and environmental studies, provide new driveways and culverts, and re-grade all of the ditches to allow them to drain.
Purpose: Support Ford Road improvements from US 59 in Montgomery County to the Harris County line. The current road is undersized and serves as one of only three evacuation routes for the Kingwood area. All three routes have drainage issues and Ford Road is only a two-lane road. The proposed project would make Ford Road a four-lane road, improve local drainage, and improve driver and pedestrian safety in the corridor.
Purpose: Provide funding for five rural wooden bridges in Montgomery County that are past their design life and need to be replaced. The bridges were not built to current criteria and increase the risk of flooding by backing up water during large storms. One bridge serves as the only way in and out of a subdivision presenting a safety hazard. The funding request is for engineering, surveying, and permitting services to develop construction plans to replace five bridges.
Purpose: Purpose: To assist with the operations of our regional active shooter rapid response training facility by purchasing training supplies/aids, equiping graduates with medical response supplies, and ballistic equipment for actual threats. To date, graduates include 1,600 law enforcement personnel, fire and EMS first responders.
Being approved by a committee doesn’t mean the Crenshaw earmarks are “done deals” yet. The full House of Representatives and Senate must still approve them. And then the President must sign the Appropriations bill into law. So, things could change between now and the end of the year. Final amounts could vary. More news to follow on the Crenshaw earmarks.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/24/23
2155 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CrenshawElmGrove-e1690218032150.jpg?fit=1100%2C825&ssl=18251100adminadmin2023-07-24 12:08:542023-07-24 12:08:55Nine Crenshaw Flood-Related Earmark Requests Approved by Various House Committees
Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has essentially completed Batches 1 and 2 of Cypress Creek major maintenance projects, according to District spokesperson Karen Hastings. On 9/12/22, I photographed the freshly repaired and reseeded channel K131-00-00 (Spring Gully) at Cypresswood Drive, one of the last projects in Batch #1. See the pictures below.
Such projects typically involve desilting. That involves removing accumulated sediment that reduces the conveyance of the channel.
Among them is the capital improvement project below. Note the two red ovals in the photo. They loosely represent the locations of what will become two large detention basins on either side of TC Jester.
E&R stands for Excavation and Removal. HCFCD has owned this property and the property across TC Jester for years. Knowing that someday a detention pond would be built here, HCFCD entered into an E&R contract with a dirt company. Such contracts give dirt companies the right to excavate the dirt and haul it away for pennies a truckload. The company then makes its money by selling the dirt at market rates.
Such contracts also create a quadruple-win situation.
Taxpayers get dirt removed virtually for free.
HCFCD gets a head start on excavation.
The hauling company reduces its costs.
Home- and road-builders reduce their costs.
The main restriction: excavated dirt must be taken outside of the floodplain.
The main drawback: If the market slows, so does excavation.
Together, the projects will mitigate the risk of future riverine flooding by providing a safe place to temporarily store stormwater runoff. That will reduce both the size of the floodplain and the water level within it.
None of these projects will provide an instant fix for the entire Cypress Creek watershed. But together they will reduce risk in areas along it.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/15/22
1843 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/20220913-DJI_0556.jpg?fit=1200%2C799&ssl=17991200adminadmin2022-09-15 06:38:132022-09-15 06:55:57Batches 1 and 2 of Cypress Creek Major-Maintenance Projects Completed, More to Come
Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. Many in the Lake Houston Area have asked, “Are we safer now?” The answer is yes, but we have a long way to go to achieve all our goals. Here’s a five-year flood-mitigation report card. It describes what we have and haven’t accomplished in 29 areas. So get ready for a roller coaster ride. I’ll leave the letter grades to you.
Lake Houston Area Mitigation
The most visible accomplishment in the Lake Houston Area since Harvey is dredging. The City and Army Corps removed approximately 4 million cubic yards of sediment blocking the West and East Forks. Before dredging, River Grove Park flooded six times in two months. Since dredging, it hasn’t flooded once to my knowledge.
To reduce the amount of water coming inbound during storms, the San Jacinto River Basin Master Drainage Study identified 16 potential areas for building large stormwater detention basins. Unfortunately, they had a combined cost of $3.3 billion and would only reduce damages by about a quarter of that.
So, the SJRA recommended additional study on the two with the highest Benefit/Cost Ratio. Their hope: to reduce costs further. The two are on Birch and Walnut Creeks, two tributaries of Spring Creek near Waller County. Expect a draft report in February next year.
Funding these would likely require State assistance. But the Texas Water Development Board’s San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group has just recently submitted its first draft report. The draft also recommended looking at detention basin projects on West Fork/Lake Creek, East Fork/Winters Bayou, and East Fork/Peach Creek.
Building them all could hold back a foot of stormwater falling across 337 square miles. But funds would still need to be approved over several years. We’re still a long way off. Results – on the ground – could take years if not decades.
The Regional Flood Planning Group also recommended something called “benching” in two places along 5 miles of the West Fork. In flood mitigation, benching entails shaving down a floodplain to create extra floodwater storage capacity. Like the detention basins, benching is still a long way off…if it happens at all.
After Harvey, many downstream residents accused SJRA of flooding downstream areas to save homes around Lake Conroe. At the time, SJRA’s board had no residents from the Humble/Kingwood Area. So Governor Abbott appointed two: Kaaren Cambio and Mark Micheletti. Cambio later resigned due to a potential conflict of interest when she took a job with Congressman Dan Crenshaw. That leaves Micheletti as the lone Humble/Kingwood Area resident on a seven-person board. However, the SJRA points out that the Board’s current president, Ronnie Anderson, represents Chambers County, which is also downstream.
State Representative Will Metcalf, who represents the Lake Conroe area, introduced a bill to limit SJRA board membership to upstream residents. Luckily for downstream residents, it failed.
7) Lake Conroe Lowering
SJRA identified temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe as a strategy to reduce downstream flood risk until completion of dredging and gates projects in the Lake Houston Area. The lowering creates extra storage in the lake during peak rainy seasons. After SJRA implemented the plan, Lake Conroe residents objected to the inconvenience. They sued SJRA and the City, but lost. After discussion with all stakeholders, the SJRA quietly modified its plan. It still lowers the lake, but not as much.
8) Lowering Lake Houston
Houston also started lowering Lake Houston, not seasonally, but in advance of major storms. The City has lowered the lake more than 20 times since beginning the program. That has helped to avoid much potential flooding to date.
9) Lake Conroe Dam Management
SJRA applied for and received several TWDB grants to enhance flood mitigation and communications in the San Jacinto River Basin. One involves developing a Lake Conroe Reservoir Forecasting Tool. SJRA has also worked with San Jacinto County to develop a Flood Early Warning System.
Finally, SJRA’s Lake Conroe/Lake Houston Joint Reservoir Operations Plan is on hold pending completion of the City’s plan to add more gates to the Lake Houston dam. Such projects may help reduce the risk of releasing unnecessarily large volumes of water in the future.
However, the location is controversial. Geologists say it wouldn’t reduce sediment in the area of greatest damage. Environmentalists worry that it could increase sedimentation through a “hungry-water” effect and open the door to river mining. And I worry that, even if successful, the pilot study would not be extendable. That’s because it relies on partnerships with sand miners. And other tributaries to Lake Houston do not have sand mines or as many sand mines.
It’s hard to get good grades on your flood mitigation report card without funding.
$1.6 million for HCFCD for Taylor Gully stormwater channel improvement.
$1.6 million for HCFCD for Kingwood Diversion Channel improvement.
$1.67 million for Harris County for the Forest Manor drainage improvement project in Huffman.
$8.2 million from FEMA the Westador Basin stormwater detention project on Cypress Creek.
$9.9 million from FEMA for the TC Jester storm water detention basin on Cypress Creek.
Crenshaw also has backed community requests for more funding in Fiscal 23. They include:
$8 million for the Lake Houston Dam Spillway (Gates).
$10 million for the Woodridge Stormwater Detention Basin (see below).
$10 million for a Cedar Bayou Stormwater Detention Basin.
Harris County Flood Control
19) Channel Maintenance and Repair
Harris County Flood Control has already completed several maintenance projects in the Lake Houston Area. In Kingwood, those projects include Taylor Gully, Ben’s Branch, parts of the Diversion Ditch and other unnamed ditches. In Atascocita, HCFCD also completed a project on Rogers Gully. Upstream, HCFCD is working on the third round of repairs to Cypress Creek. Batch 3 includes work at 12 sites on 11 channel sections. I’m sure the District has maintenance projects in other areas, too. I just can’t name them all.
In 2019, uncontrolled stormwater from the Woodridge Village development twice flooded approximately 600 homes in Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest. HCFCD and the City purchased Woodridge from Perry Homes last year. HCFCD soon thereafter started removing sediment from the site to create a sixth stormwater detention basin that would more than double capacity on the site. At the end of last month, contractors had removed approximately 50,000 cubic yards out of 500,000 in the contract. This gives HCFCD a head start on excavation while engineers complete the basin’s final design.
21) Local Drainage Study Implementation
HCFCD authorized four studies of the drainage needs in the Lake Houston Area. They completed the Huffman and Kingwood studies. Atascocita and East Lake Houston/Crosby started earlier this year and are still underway.
The Kingwood study measured levels of service in all channels and outlined strategies to improve them to the 100-year level. The first two projects recommended: Taylor Gully and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch. Neither has started construction yet. But see the notes under funding above.
The Huffman Study recommended improvements to FM2100, which TxDOT will handle. It also recommended dredging in the East Fork near Luce Bayou which the City has completed. Finally, it recommended a bypass channel for Luce. However, pushback from residents forced cancellation of that project.
HCFCD completed buyouts of 80+ townhomes on Timberline and Marina Drives in Forest Cove last month. Contractors demolished the final run-down complex in August. That should improve property values in Forest Cove.
23) Regulation Harmonization
Harris County Flood Control and Engineering have been working to get municipalities and other counties throughout the region to adopt certain minimum drainage regulations. I discussed the importance of uniformly high standards in last night’s post. So far, about a third of the governments have upgraded their regs. A third are still deciding whether to act. And the remainder have taken no action. There has been little movement in the last six months.
City of Houston
As mentioned above, the City has taken a lead role in dredging, adding gates to Lake Houston, and proactive lake lowering. In addition, the City has helped with:
24) Bridge Underpass Clean-Out
The City of Houston successfully cleaned out ditches under Kingwood Drive and North Park Drive in at least six places. Bridges represent a major choke point during floods. So eliminating sediment buildups helps reduce flood risk in areas that previously flooded.
The lowest score on the flood-mitigation report card probably goes to LSGCD.
The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has started pumping groundwater again at an alarming rate. Projected subsidence near the Montgomery County Border equals 3.25 feet, but only 1 foot at the Lake Houston dam. That could eventually tilt the lake back toward the Humble/Kingwood/Huffman area and reduce the margin of safety in flooding. That’s bad news.
Sand Mining Regulations
Twenty square miles of West Fork sand mines immediately upstream from I-69 have exposed a swath of floodplain once covered by trees to heavy erosion during floods. Mathematically, the potential for erosion increased 33X compared to the normal width of the river. Sand mines were also frequently observed releasing sediment into the river. And the dikes around the mines often wash out.
So in 2019, the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative (LHAGFPI) began meeting with legislators, regulators and the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association (TACA). The goal: to establish comprehensive Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the sand mining industry in the San Jacinto River Basin.
27) Mine Plan/Stabilization Reports Now Required
TCEQ adopted new regulations, effective January 6, 2022. They required miners to file a ‘Mine Plan’ by July 6, 2022 and also a ‘Final Stabilization Report’ when a mine is played out.
28) Vegetated Buffer Zones (Setbacks)
The new regs also stipulate undisturbed vegetative buffer zones around new mines. Buffer zones aid in sediment filtration and removal by slowing surface water. They also strengthen dikes.
The new regs require a minimum 100-foot vegetated buffer zone adjacent to perennial streams greater than 20 feet in width. However, for streams less than 20 feet wide, the buffer zone is only 50 feet for perennial streams, and 35 feet for intermittent streams.
29) Reclamation Bonds
Unfortunately, the Flood Prevention Initiative could not convince TCEQ to require ‘reclamation bonds.’ Other states use such bonds to prevent miners from abandoning mines without taking steps to reduce future erosion, such as planting vegetation.
My apologies to any projects or parties I omitted. Now it’s your turn. Give grades to those you think have done the best job on YOUR Harvey flood-mitigation report card.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/26/22
1823 Days since Hurricane Harvey and one day from Harvey’s Fifth Anniversary
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/20210416-DJI_0406.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2022-08-26 22:09:382022-08-27 12:10:28Harvey: A 5-Year Flood-Mitigation Report Card
Back in 2019, portions of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest Villages flooded twice. The first time occurred on May 7th. According to Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) report on the storm, “A 30-min rate of 2.9 inches was recorded at US 59 and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and a 1 hour rate of 4.0 inches.”
“380 structures were flooded in the Elm Grove Village subdivision and other nearby subdivisions in the northern portions of Kingwood.”
Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis and Taylor Gully Study
In 2019-20, HCFCD, Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 10), and City of Houston teamed up to conduct a drainage analysis for all streams in the Kingwood area. A recommendation to prioritize engineering of drainage improvements along Taylor Gully (including Woodridge) came out of that study.
The Flood Control District began preliminary engineering study on the Taylor Gully improvements in 2021. HCFCD anticipates presenting results during late summer or early fall this year.
Purchase of Woodridge Village By County and City
In early 2021, the Flood Control District and the City of Houston partnered to acquire the 267.35-acre Woodridge Village property for approximately $14 million.
Crenshaw also has another earmark pending for $10 million to actually construct the improvements recommended by the study.
Local groups must spend earmarks during the fiscal year in which Congress approves them. So funding can’t get too far ahead of the engineering.
Taylor Gully Preliminary Engineering Study
The Taylor Gully study will look at Woodridge in conjunction with other potential Taylor Gully improvements. However, HCFCD must perform additional preliminary engineering to further evaluate specific alternatives for Woodridge and determine the best.
During each study, HCFCD will hold Community Engagement Meetings to present alternatives and gather feedback.
E&R projects provide a head start on the excavation process and risk reduction. They can start before the design of a stormwater detention basin. Contractors excavate a set amount of material within an agreed-upon timeframe and general area.
As of April 30, 2022, 36,421 cubic yards of material has already been removed from the site. See photo above taken that day. The project will remove as much as 500,000 cubic yards of soil and other material.
Woodridge will remain an active construction zone for up to three years.
Have a Happy Mother’s Day this weekend.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/6/2022
1711 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1096 Days since May 7, 2019
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.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Escape-e1588895116724.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2022-05-06 19:52:552022-05-09 20:21:03Mitigation Update: 3rd Anniversary of First Elm Grove Flood
Vidal G. Martinez began his career in 1978 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Houston. Since 1981, he has been engaged in private practice as Managing Partner of Martinez Partners LLP. Martinez has been chairman of the State Bar of Texas. And was appointed by former Texas Governor Bill Clements to the University of Houston Board of Regents where he also served as Vice Chairman. During decades of public service, he has helped lead more than three dozen organizations such as the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Houston Housing Authority, Houston Port Authority, Houston Proud, Salvation Army, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Methodist Hospital (where he has been a director for 30 years).
Rehak: Thank you for your great history of public service. Today, I’d like to talk to you about flooding: specifically, partner funding; what our neighbors are doing upstream; growth; and your priorities for flood control. Let’s start with partner funding. How do we get more?
Leveraging Relationships to Accelerate Partner Funding
Martinez: When I was a port commissioner, we always had to chase about $600 to $700 million every five years for the widening and deepening of the port. So, we worked closely with our congressional delegation to put pressure on the Administration. We were in direct contact. We had the whole business community, the Greater Houston Partnership, and leaders, all touching base on their areas of influence and pushing things forward. That was a formula that worked, and it didn’t matter which party was in power. My years on the Port Commission had Clinton and George W. Bush in the Oval Office. You go to different leaders that influence that administration but the principle is the same.
That’s the way we did it before. And that’s the way I would approach partner funding.
This is something our community deserves right now. I’m not willing to wait till January. We need to start putting pressure on right now.
Rehak: You’re aware of this flood resilience trust Commissioners Court created using money diverted from the toll road authority and other parts of the county budget to start projects where we have not yet confirmed partner funding. Do you think that’s a wise thing? To decouple partner funding from the starts of projects? Or should we wait until we get a definitive answer on the partner funding?
Martinez: We should wait until we get a definitive answer. You can do more projects that way.
Working More Effectively With Neighboring Counties
Rehak: Let’s move on to upstream neighbors. On the outskirts of Harris county, we see a push by neighboring counties to attract development by lowering flood regulations or not enforcing them. They say, “It’s going to be cheaper here for you. Your profit margins will be better.” How can we work with those counties so they don’t make things worse as we spend money to make them better?
Martinez: It’s best to get the federal government involved. Ergo, you go to congressional representatives who cover those areas, like Dan Crenshaw and Morgan Luttrell. Luttrell is running for Kevin Brady’s seat now that Brady is retiring. I’m friends with both.
You start out by going back to the wallet. The people who affect that wallet the most are your congressional representatives. Nobody is a stand-alone when it comes to funding. They need that federal money.
You start with a distinct conversation with these communities that say there are “no rules.” You explain how it affects your water and flooding downstream. And you say, “You can’t do that.” You start at the political level. And then you go back again to funding mechanisms. That usually helps people clearly see what their options are going forward.
Rehak: Is there anything else that can be done in that regard? Would you favor, for instance, the formation of a regional flood control district?
Martinez: Well, you’re going to have to school me on what you think needs to be done.
Rehak: People need to deal with their own run off. Three words. “Retain your rain.” If everybody did that, nobody would flood.
Martinez: Ed Emmett said that all the time. He said, “We can take care of our own water. We can’t take care of everyone else’s water.”
I’m willing to learn, listen and prepare a plan that makes sense for Harris, Montgomery County, Liberty and other counties. We need to talk to the political leaders and stop the war. Let’s figure out a regional plan that works.
Need for More Fairness in Setting Priorities
Rehak: How would you set priorities? You’ve heard of the County’s equity prioritization framework. Some commissioners are now talking about fixing 500-year flooding inside the Beltway before fixing two-year flooding outside the Beltway. They’re using “equity” as an excuse to shift ever greater sums of money from outlying areas.
Martinez: I’m against this phenomenal reversal. There will be a new start in January 2023. A 3-2 difference means we can stop this. We must treat everyone fairly.
Rehak: Any last thoughts?
Martinez: Get ready for January 3rd. Things are going to start to change.
Posted by Bob Rehak based on an interview with Vidal Martinez
1677 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/20220317-Vidal-Martinez.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2022-04-02 15:48:112022-04-02 16:25:45Interview With Vidal Martinez, Republican Candidate for County Judge in May Runoff
The need for the two projects in the Kingwood Area became apparent only after the completion of the Kingwood Area Drainage Study. The projects had not been identified when the flood bond passed.
Kingwood Diversion Ditch Improvements
These improvements will divert stormwater runoff from Bens Branch to lower the risk of structural flooding along the portion of Bens Branch within the Kingwood area. This project will also provide capacity to allow for future neighborhood drainage improvements that outfall into the Diversion Ditch and Bens Branch.
The Kingwood Diversion Channel was constructed with expansion in mind. So HCFCD will only need to acquire minimal additional right-of-way. The project includes:
Channel conveyance improvements
A concrete diversion structure from the confluence at Bens Branch in Montgomery County
A new proposed outfall into the West Fork San Jacinto River.
This project will remove 62 existing structures from the 100-year floodplain inundation area. It will also provide capacity for future drainage improvements that benefit an additional 586 structures – 295 and 291 from along the Diversion Ditch and Bens Branch respectively.
The proposed improvements also provide increased flood protection for Kingwood High School and Saint Martha Catholic School.
Taylor Gully Improvements
An engineering study found the upper portion of Taylor Gully insufficient. Large numbers of structures have flooded upstream of Rustling Elms Drive. This project will restore a 100-year level of service for Taylor Gully from the upper limits of the channel to Maple Bend Drive.
The improvements include maintaining the existing top of banks, and constructing a concrete 20 foot by 6 foot (max) low flow channel section. This will remove 387 structures from the 100-year floodplain inundation area. It will also provide capacity for future improvements that could benefit an additional 62 structures.
Forest Manor Project in Huffman
The project would help reduce flood risk for 98 homes. Less than 15% of homes in the subdivision are in the regulatory FEMA 100-year floodplain, yet more than 40% of the homes have reported flood claims in recent years (with 30% consisting of repetitive losses).
The project will improve and deepen an existing detention basin. It will also better connect adjacent roads (Windhover, Westview, Cedardale, and Demaret) with the improved stormwater infrastructure. Stormwater capture will prevent structural and roadway flooding, and reduce non-point source pollutants from flood events. These pollutants result from structural and private property flooding. They include pollutants such as oil, grease, debris, and other contaminants. Without mitigation, these pollutants would end up in Galveston Bay.
TC Jester Detention Basin
This stormwater detention mitigation project will reduce flood damage within the Cypress Creek Watershed. It will retain storm runoff, and reduce floodplain width and depth. Approximately 2689 structures are currently at risk of riverine flooding during a 100-year rain. This proposed project will capitalize on an existing Harris County detention pond with an additional 0.18 acres of wetlands to create a basin footprint of 25 acres. The proposed project will capture overbank flooding so that water elevation in a 100-year storm does not exceed 0.49 feet. This proposed project will remove 87 structures from the existing 100-year floodplain. When complete, the full detention basin will remove 271 structures from the floodplain.
Cypress Creek Westador Basin
The Cypress Creek Westador Stormwater Detention will significantly reduce flood risk, the floodplain, and water levels. Phase I will be functionally independent of this multi-phase project and will remove 128 structures from the existing 100-year floodplain.
Thanks to Crenshaw and Staff
Many thanks to Congressman Dan Crenshaw and his staff. These projects will make a difference for thousands of people who have flooded repeatedly.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/14/22
1658 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/RJR_4304.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500adminadmin2022-03-14 15:43:432022-03-14 15:50:25Crenshaw Secures Funding for Local Flood Mitigation Projects
Aerial photos of the West Fork Mouth Bar show that the above-water portion on this once-massive sand bar is now down to the width of one excavator for most of its length. A mouth bar is a sand bar where the mouth of a river or stream meets a standing body of water, such as Lake Houston. As water slows when it reaches the standing water, sediment carried downstream drops out of suspension.
The Before Shot
The first photo below shows the West Fork Mouth Bar immediately after Harvey and before any remediation work took place.
At that point in time, the mouth bar extended five feet above water in places. It was 3/4 of a mile wide and a half mile from the northernmost part to the small island in the channel south of the bar. But the part you can’t see, below water, is even bigger.
This massive blockage backed water up throughout the Humble/Kingwood/Atascocita area, and contributed to the flooding of thousands of homes and businesses.
I took the shot below on Sunday night, 10/4/2020. While the camera position and lens perspective are slightly different, they are close enough to show the progress made in removing the blockage, or at least the portion above water.
Close comparison of these two photos shows several smaller islands beyond the mouth bar that the Army Corps removed a year ago. At the completion of the Emergency West Fork Dredging Program (2018/19), FEMA agreed to dredge 500,000 cubic yards (CY) of sediment in a 600-acre area between the mouth bar and Atascocita Point in the upper right of the photos. After dredging the 500,000 CY, the Corps increased the average depth of that area to 5.5 feet. However, within weeks, Imelda filled much of that back in.
This year, the City of Houston started excavating the above-water portion of the mouth bar. The bar is now down to width of the excavators used for mechanical dredging. To fund this effort, the City used money left over from Hurricane Harvey cleanup.
Biggest Part Remains Below Water
But like icebergs, most of the sediment in sand bars lies below the surface. So even when there’s nothing left for me to photograph from the air, most of the blockage will remain. Two local geologists recently measured several cross sections of the river. The river’s profile looks like this.
River depth upstream near Kings Harbor and downstream near the 1960 Bridge is more than 22 feet. Between those two points (which lie about three miles apart), the deepest part of the channel is only about 6-7 feet. Not far from the main channel, however, the river gets much shallower. It’s one to three feet in most places.
The continued presence of this plateau will slow water down and trap more sediment, undermining the effectiveness of earlier efforts.
More Dredging Slated
Restoring the conveyance of the river after decades of deferred maintenance will require much more dredging after the above-water mouth bar is gone.
Luckily, FEMA has agreed to dredge another million cubic yards, according to Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin. State Representative Dan Huberty also secured an additional $30 million in funding in the last legislature to continue the effort.
Stephen Costello, the City’s Flood Czar, is currently working on developing a next-phase plan, but has not yet announced it.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/5/2020
1133 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/20201004-DJI_0792-2.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2020-10-05 19:42:232020-10-05 20:11:58West Fork Mouth Bar Now Down to Width of One Excavator For Most of Its Length
A bi-partisan amendment sponsored by Dan Crenshaw and approved in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide $45 million to resolve “duplication-of-benefits” issues that continue to dog more than 1000 Texans stemming from Hurricane Harvey. However, the bill has not yet been taken up in the Senate. Pleas for help to Senators Cruz and Cornyn by Hurricane Harvey flood victims have not resulted in action.
At issue: whether those who are eligible for grants, but who received SBA loans, should be allowed to use grants to pay back loans. The government permitted this after Katrina and wants to permit it for Harvey victims, but 961 days after the storm, the Senate has still not voted on Crenshaw’s amendment that would enable it.
Duplication of Benefits or Duplication of Disasters?
Imagine you were retired, then flooded during Harvey. You’re living on social security and savings. For the sake of illustration, let’s say you had damage totaling $100,000. You got a grant of $20,000 and took out an SBA loan for $80,000 to repair your home. Then you came out of retirement and found another job to pay back the loan. But your employer laid you off when the virus hit.
When you took out the loan, you were told that it would not count against you if additional grants became available later. But it did. When you applied for the second grant to help pay back the loan, they told you it would count as a “duplication of benefits.”
Why? They don’t have enough money to cover people in your category. Why? Because the Senate has not acted on Crenshaw’s amendment. When you write your Senators, you get polite form letters back, but no action.
Will this problem be fixed? Will the Senate ever act? Probably not. The government is so consumed with the corona crisis that it has forgotten about the Harvey crisis. Meanwhile, the victims of BOTH are forgotten.
How You Can Help Forgotten Ones
If you think this is unfair, please email your Senators. They respond to public pressure.
Please take a few minutes.
Ask your senators to sponsor “the Crenshaw-Fletcher Amendment for HUD appropriations to supplement Harvey Housing.”
Emphasize that loans are being classified as “benefits” to deny people who would otherwise be eligible to receive grants.
Loans weren’t considered a duplication of benefits after Katrina, but they are for Harvey.
Congress, the President and HUD don’t want loans to be a duplication of benefits.
Constituents are being doubly hurt by a “duplication of disasters”: Inaction over the duplication of benefits issue and unemployment due to the virus.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/IMG_8300.jpeg?fit=1280%2C960&ssl=19601280adminadmin2020-04-16 13:26:502020-04-16 14:24:42Lack of Senate Action Holds Up Resolution of So-Called Duplication-of-Benefits Issues
On October 24, 2019, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, along with Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Representative Kevin Brady (TX-08), sent a letter to Acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. The letter requested FEMA’s swift approval of the City of Houston’s new plan to dredge more of the San Jacinto river mouth bar.
Letter in Response to New Request Filed by City
The letter came in response to the most recent request from the City for FEMA aid on or about October 11, 2019.
While FEMA has already completed its initial 500,000 cubic-yard debris-removal mission, sediment brought by Hurricane Harvey still exists in the San Jacinto river mouth-bar. To protect Houston, Kingwood, and Humble residents from future flooding, it is imperative that the remaining debris is removed, said Congressman Dan Crenshaw.
“The City of Houston recently filed a Project Worksheet (PW) for debris removal as Category A work under the Public Assistance program,” the group of legislators wrote.“We urge you to use any and all necessary FEMA resources to expeditiously review and approve the city’s PW. Delay will only increase costs and prevent FEMA from fully leveraging presently available dredging assets.”
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has finished its Army Corps assignment at the mouth bar. I photographed workers continuing to dismantle the company’s dredge this afternoon.
The last line of the letter (“leveraging presently available dredging assets”) refers to assets other than the dredge itself. Such assets include the command post opposite Forest Cove, a second launch point in Atascocita, pipe, cranes, and other assets that could soon be removed. See photos above.
TDEM to Forward Request to FEMA
As of yesterday, according to Houston City Council Member Dave Martin, TDEM still had not forwarded the request to FEMA. However, this reportedly falls within TDEM’s normal processing time for such requests. I wouldn’t read too much into it yet. But let’s hope they hustle up. Those crews at the command site were working late into Saturday night. I’m guessing that represents overtime.
You can clearly see from the pictures above how much equipment it takes to support a dredging operation. And remember, each 40-section of dredge pipe weighs 4,000 pounds and there are about 10 miles of it! This request should not be taken lightly.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/26/2019
788 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/RJR_3783.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500adminadmin2019-10-26 19:16:202019-10-26 19:19:42Crenshaw, Brady, Cruz and Cornyn Ask FEMA to Dredge More of West Fork Mouth Bar