Tag Archive for: Dan Huberty

How Blocked Up Is Rogers Gully?

On March 1, I posted about how dredgers had moved from the East Fork to Rogers Gully. Rogers Gully enters Lake Houston at the Walden Country Club. In my opinion, it has the worst mouth bar of all the channels that enter Lake Houston, with the exception of the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto. Harris County Flood Control finished dredging the channel itself almost two years ago. But the mouth bar is the City’s responsibility.

I went back to see how much of the mouth bar remained this morning and was shocked. The two dredges are still sitting far offshore, approximately where they were on March 1.

Here are several pictures that show their position this morning, 3/11/22.

Looking west from the mouth of Rogers Gully toward the dredges about a quarter mile away and the eastern shore of Lake Houston in the background.
Reverse angle. Looking over one of the two dredges toward the mouth of Rogers Gully.

Curious about why the dredges were working so far out, I asked State Representative Dan Huberty “Why?” Huberty, who secured money for the dredging, texted back a one-line answer.

“Can’t get into Rogers Gulley without dredging their way in.”

State representative dan huberty

Wow. I knew Rogers Gully was bad. But I had no idea it was that bad. This could be like getting to the East Fork from the West Fork. It took crews three months to dredge their way through the channel south of Royal Shores that connects the two forks.

It’s been almost two weeks since they started working here. And this area is far wider than the Royal Shores channel. Rogers Gully has apparently formed a wide and long “underwater” delta that extends far beyond the above-water portion.

So in answer to the question in the headline, “How blocked up is Rogers Gully?” It’s baaaad.

This underscores the need to establish a perpetual maintenance dredging program for Lake Houston, something the Army Corps recommended back in 2018 and that Brown and Root recommended in 2000. It’s not just about recreation. It’s about ensuring long-term water-supply capacity in the lake.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/11/22

1655 Days since Hurricane Harvey

FEMA to Fund Additional Million Cubic Yards of Dredging from West Fork Mouth Bar Area

Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin announced today that FEMA will fund the dredging of an additional million cubic yards of sediment from the area around the San Jacinto West Fork Mouth Bar. The giant sand bar partially blocked the mouth of the West Fork during Harvey and backed water up. It contributed to the flooding of thousands of homes and businesses in Kingwood, Humble and Atascocita.

Only a skeleton of the above-water portion of the mouth bar remains. But water remains shallow on both sides of it. Note all the trees and little islands poking up between the bar and camera position. Photo taken 8/20/2020.

Ending a Three-Year Debate

The City and FEMA debated for almost three years about how much sediment Harvey deposited in the area between Kings Point and Atascocita Point. The disaster declaration following Harvey only allowed FEMA to fund dredging of sediment deposited by that storm, not to pay for any deposits there previously.

Back before Great Lakes removed its hydraulic dredge, the City commissioned TetraTech to determine the quantity. In April 2019, the City submitted TetraTech’s ninety-four-page report. Based on core sampling, TetraTech estimated that Harvey deposited approximately 1,012,000 cubic yards of sand/sediment. 

However, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) disputed the TetraTech’s conclusion. USACE pulled the Great Lakes dredge from the river on September 3, 2019, after dredging only 500,000 cubic yards from that area.

Now, FEMA has reversed course. It concurs with the City’s findings, thanks in part to Martin’s persistence. Martin is “elated” with FEMA’s ruling.

Before Dredging Can Begin…

Removal of this debris is pending:

  • Project identification in the Federal/State grant portal
  • Preparation of construction documents
  • Identification of disposal site(s)
  • Selection of the method of dredging
  • Cost estimates and construction bidding.

The City will finalize the timeline as it develops the documents above.

How Various Dredging Projects Add Up

FEMA’s initial Emergency West Fork dredging contract in 2018 resulted in the removal of 1,849,000 cubic yards of sand/sediment between US59 and the Mouth Bar. Subsequently, FEMA authorized removal of an additional 500,000 cubic yards near the Mouth Bar itself. That brought the total up to 2,349,000 cubic yards.

Subsequently, Martin, Senator Brandon Creighton and Representative Dan Huberty gained support from Governor Greg Abbott to provide a $50 Million grant for additional debris removal. Approximately $7 Million went to dredging the mouth bar land mass, a project which is still underway.

Huberty’s amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 500 set aside another $30 Million for Harris County for dredging at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston. The City is currently a sub-recipient of approximately $10 Million of those funds. Dredging will continue until the City exhausts the funds. According to Martin, the money should cover approximately 242,000 more cubic yards.

Then the FEMA money for the additional million cubic yards will kick in.

Said State Representative Dan Huberty, “After two years of showing FEMA the data, I am thrilled that we are allowed to continue this project due to the hard work of Mayor Pro Tem Martin and Mayor Turner. The funds we secured from the State during the last budget cycle to continue where FEMA left off are nearly depleted. This new funding source will let us complete this necessary and critical project. It is great news for our community. It also recognizes how important the Lake Houston Watershed is to our region.”

Other Lake Houston Dredging Projects

Approximately $10 Million of local funds are earmarked for the dredging activity within Lake Houston south of FM 1960. The City plans to coordinate with Harris County Flood Control District to utilize a portion of the $10 Million to remove the mouth bar obstruction at Roger’s Gully.

Rogers Gully Mouth Bar
Rogers Gully Mouth Bar

However, it won’t happen anytime soon. Based on the bond priorities pushed through Harris County by Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis, County funds will not be available until July 2021 at the earliest. And maybe not until March 2022.


Mayor Pro Tem Martin, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, State Representative Dan Huberty, State Senator Brandon Creighton, Texas Division Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd,  Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Chief Recovery Officer Stephen Costello have all worked together to make these projects happen.

Another view of the slowly disappearing San Jacinto West Fork mouth bar.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/21/2020

1088 Days after Hurricane Harvey

West Fork Mouth Bar Getting Snack Sized

Mechanical dredging is slowly but surely downsizing the San Jacinto West Fork Mouth Bar. It’s still about a billion times larger than a snack-sized McDonald’s Oreo McFlurry, but it’s a vast improvement over what it was. It now appears to be about one third of its size in January when most people would have called it super sized.

A Sisyphean Task

Snack-sized puns aside, the job is a Sisyphean task. For those not familiar with the term, Sisyphus was a figure from Greek mythology who angered Zeus. Zeus sentenced him to rolling a boulder up a hill for the rest of eternity only for it to roll back down again every time he got near the top.

Historians and storytellers see many morals in the tale. Be persistent. Work hard. Never give up.

And so it is with those three lonely excavators working on giant sand bar at the mouth of the West Fork where it meets Lake Houston.

Day in and day out, they remove one bucketful at a time. Six months after they started, much of the above-water portion of the sand bar has now been removed. But they still haven’t started to address the matter of cutting a channel that connects the dredged portion of the river with the lake.

Meanwhile, more sand and silt comes down river with every storm.

Comparing Post-Harvey with Recent Photos

Still, if you compare post-Harvey photos with photos taken recently, you can see progress.

Dredgers are slowly reducing the dam behind the dam.

Looking south toward FM1960 in 2017.
Looking south today. Little length has been removed, but the width is about a third of what it was after Harvey. Photo taken 6/16/2020.

The dredgers keep nibbling the south edge of the bar, taking row after row of sand, much like eating an ear of corn.

Looking west, upstream, from eastern end. Photo 7/5/2020.
Western tip of bar is now only a little wider than the tracks of one excavator. 7/5/2020.
Looking east at sunrise on 7/5/2020. Note FM1960 bridge in the extreme upper right.

In the next few months, they may run out of room to maneuver on the bar.

Survey Boat Spotted on Lake Last Week

Residents recently reported seeing a survey boat out on Lake Houston. That’s a good sign. It says that the City, County and State are now looking at what should come next with the $30 million that State Rep. Dan Huberty got the legislature to commit last year as an amendment to SB500. Harris County Flood Control also committed $10 million to dredging in the 2018 flood bond fund.

The City is currently funding the mechanical dredging with $6 million left over FEMA disaster recovery funds. Those should be running out soon if they haven’t already.

To my knowledge, no one has yet addressed the issue of long-term maintenance dredging, although everyone acknowledges the need for it. That river just keeps on bringing sediment.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/6/2020

1042 Days after Hurricane Harvey