Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin announced today that the City of Houston has completed Kingwood Storm Line Inspections. Only a few spots needed debris removal. The rest were clear, according to Martin.
30 Miles of Stormwater Drains Now Clear
When the City encountered debris, crews removed it with specialized equipment and personnel trained to work in confined spaces, says Martin. Public Works inspected approximately 150,000 linear feet or about 30 miles of storm water lines.
The communities inspected include:
North & South Woodland Hills
Kingwood Place Village
Magnolia Point (Huffman)
North Kingwood Forest
Sand Creek Village
Public Works inspected Kingwood villages impacted by Tropical Storm Imelda and others based on the number of reports made to 3-1-1.
It is critically important that if you identify areas with drainage issues that you report them to 3-1-1.
The City determines larger drainage (or other infrastructure) projects from 3-1-1 reports. The more calls about an issue, the higher the project’s priority.
Join Adopt-A-Drain Program
Martin encourages neighborhoods to Adopt-A-Drain. He gave a shout out to those who have already adopted and named their drains in the Kingwood Area. They include: Big Bertha, Maleficent, Shrader’s Drain, A1 Signs, Lil Bandingo’s Drain, Botta Boom Drain and many more!
“Residents, businesses, and community groups can take advantage of lots of drains and naming opportunities while helping decrease debris in our drainage system,” said Martin.
Other Ways to Help Ensure Free-Flowing Storm Lines
Here’s how residents can help:
Make sure trash cans don’t tip before they are picked up
Ensure yard clippings and leaves stay out of gutters
Make sure yard crews don’t blow clippings down storm drains
Clear gutters before bad weather
Never throw trash or other items down drains or inlets.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/5/2020
1011 Days since Hurricane Harveyand 260 since Imelda
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Victim_03.jpg?fit=1000%2C1500&ssl=115001000adminadmin2020-06-05 14:49:152020-06-05 14:52:30Kingwood Storm Line Inspections Complete
Two days ago, Harris County Commissioner’s voted to heap another demand on the Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village purchase offer. Even though they had already sent a formal offer to Perry last week! Now, before Commissioners cut a check for $14 million to Perry Homes, they want the City of Houston to contribute up to half the construction costs of a regional detention basin, not just half the purchase price of the land. So the City’s costs went from half of $14 million to half of (potentially) $44 million. In other words, they tripled.
Despite the hiccup, however, construction crews at Woodridge Village are back in high gear. After a short rain delay, they continue to excavate all three detention ponds on the northern section.
Martin Provides Text of County’s Original Offer to Perry
“If the parties are unable to execute a mutually agreeable earnest money contract within 75 days after the date of this letter then this offer will be considered withdrawn and void.”
“If this proposed transaction is successful, the City and District (HCFCD) will work together to secure partnership funding from others to include, but not be limited to, the state and federal government in order to build the maximum flood risk reduction benefits at this site.”
The 75-day limit may be ambitious now that the City has to come up with more land (in lieu of cash) – and transfer it to the county before the deal becomes effective. (See below.)
And if other levels of government get involved, such as the State and Federal governments, that could create more delays. It took approximately 950 days to get all levels of government to the point where preliminary engineering could begin on more gates for the Lake Houston Dam. And it will take at least another three years to complete the project, assuming FEMA approves construction.
Conditions Must be Met Before Deal
Time is crucial because Commissioners made it clear Tuesday night that they want to see the City meet conditions on the sale before writing a check. They are not taking the City’s word that the City will fulfill its end of the bargain at some unspecified point in the future. They worry that could take 20 years. This was yet another crucial change in the offer that will require more time.
The County wants the money or land upfront so that it can begin work immediately and limit its potential liability.
Martin Insists Conditions are “No Problem”
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin insists that the City has no problem with updating drainage and floodplain regulations related to Atlas 14. Nor, he insists, will the City have a problem coming up with land in lieu of cash. However, the City Council has not yet approved either.
“It’s not necessary to take up any issue with this through a City Council vote as there is no Interlocal Agreement to vote on,” says Martin. “Until Harris County Flood Control sends us an Interlocal Agreement to vote on, we don’t take action. We understand HCFC is working on this document as we have daily communication with them.”
Perry Plows Ahead
Meanwhile, Perry contractors continue to excavate detention ponds. Here’s where things stand as of this afternoon.
N1 Pond – Contractors are excavating in a northerly direction to connect the tail of N1 to the main body of the pond.
N2 Pond – Contractors continue to expand and deepen it.
N3 Pond – Contractors are extending it south to where it connects to Taylor Gully. They’re also sloping edges.
In addition, contractors are:
Lining more of Taylor Gully with concrete
Getting ready to connect N1 and N2
Using dirt excavated from ponds to raise other areas.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/21/2020with thanks to Jeff Miller for reporting and photography
996 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200521-RJR_3015.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-05-21 21:46:382020-05-21 22:06:15Detention Pond Work Continues at Woodridge Village Despite Change in County Purchase Offer
City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin announced today that Houston Public Works will repair the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge beginning Monday, April 27. The project should last through Wednesday, May 20th if weather cooperates. During that time, bridge traffic will narrow to two lanes.
Bearing Pads Being Replaced
The City will replace 14 bearing pads at a cost of $307,400. The City’s Dedicated Drainage and Street Renewal Fund will pay for the project. The contractor for the project is ISI Contracting, Inc.
On Monday, April 27, work will begin at 7:00 a.m. by closing of the northbound lanes of the bridge. The City will convert southbound lanes to two-way traffic. The contractor will work Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.West Lake Houston Bridge Final Repairs Scheduled
Pedestrian Sidewalks Closed
The City will also barricade pedestrian sidewalks for safety.
Look out for flagmen and orange traffic cones assisting with traffic flow.
All lanes of the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge and pedestrian sidewalks will reopen on Wednesday, May 20, weather permitting.
For more information, please contact Mayor Pro Tem Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/17/2020 based on information from COH District E
962 Days After Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200120-RJR_6930.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-04-17 16:34:182020-04-17 16:34:29West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge Repairs Scheduled April 27 to May 20
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin shocked a meeting of Kingwood residents at a town hall meeting on February 25, 2020. He he said the City would not participate in a much-rumored buyout of the Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village property that contributed to the flooding of Elm Grove Village twice last year. The rumors first went public in a Houston Chronicle story on January 27th this year. In that story the Chronicle characterized the plan as a bailout, not a buyout, but later retracted that in an editorial board statement.
The plan was to purchase all or part of the land and build a giant detention pond on it that would prevent Elm Grove from flooding again.
Silence After Executive Session in Commissioner’s Court Meeting
The Chronicle story appeared one day before a Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting. Commissioners were to consider the purchase of the property at that meeting in executive session. But there was no public announcement after the meeting of what they decided. We later learned the reason why.
County Asked City to Pay for Half of Purchase
Harris County, according to Martin at the town hall meeting, decided to ask the City to put up half the money for the purchase of the land. Martin initially supported the purchase “at the right price,” according to the Chronicle story.
However, something happened between the Commissioner’s Court Meeting and the Town Hall Meeting to make Martin change his mind about participating in the deal. At the Town Hall meeting, Martin never mentioned the purchase price as an objection.
Martin Claims We Pay Taxes to County So County Should Pay 100%
Instead, Martin launched into a discussion of his tax bill. He said that out of his total tax bill he paid:
56.4% to Humble ISD
18.8% to the City of Houston (of course, that didn’t include fees, such as those for drainage)
14.4% to Harris County.
That adds up to 89.6%, but Mr. Martin did not explain what happened to the missing 10.4%.
Who Is Doing What
He simply said that dramatized the need to get “… Harris County to do more work in Kingwood.” (Editor’s note: at a previous town hall meeting Martin explained that the county was already taking over all work on ditches and streams in Kingwood, but then he quickly added that if the County purchased the Woodridge property, it would let the CITY do more work on ditches and streams. Martin never addressed that apparent contradiction).
Why City Refuses to Participate
Martin then explained that Kingwood overwhelmingly supported the $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Bond in 2018. He also pointed out that the language in the flood bond lets Harris County purchase land in other upstream counties for the purpose of floodwater detention – exactly like the proposal for Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village property.
According to Martin, County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle wants the City of Houston to contribute half of the money.
“Quite frankly,” said Martin, “I’m not going to ask the Mayor to contribute half. Because they (Harris County) should contribute 100% of it because we gave them our tax dollars and they specified what these tax dollars are to be used for. So they need to come up with 100%.”
Martin then talked about berating Harris County Judge Lina Hildago on the subject before urging residents to contact their county officials. He closed by demanding that the County should put up 100% of the money for Perry Homes’ land because “WE are that close to making this happen.” (Emphasis NOT added.) Martin also asserted that if the County took sole responsibility for the deal, it would somehow help flooding problems in other unrelated areas such as North Woodland Hills.
Listen to Audio Clip of Discussion at Town Hall
To listen to a four-minute audio recording of this segment of the meeting, click the key frame of Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin below.
Mr. Martin never explained why the taxing entity we pay the least to should assume exclusive responsibility for the entire project. Nor did he address why drainage fees paid to the City, could not be used for the project.
Meanwhile, the county has been silent on whether it will pick up 100% of the tab for the detention work. And Elm Grove residents still spend sleepless nights every time it rains.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/1/2020
915 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 164 after Imelda
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/2020/03/20200225-RJR_8720.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-03-01 13:28:522020-03-02 23:46:11City Decides Not to Participate in Elm Grove Rescue; Says County Should Pay 100%
During this meeting, residents will hear from Mayor Sylvester Turner, and other city representatives about ongoing and future capital improvement projects.
Those may or may not include flood mitigation projects. Such project include additional gates for the Lake Houston dam, additional dredging, and upstream detention. The City has not commented yet on a detailed agenda.
Come Early to Speak with City Leaders
However, the City will set up information tables for those who arrive early. This should give you a chance to review projects and talk with the people heading them up.
For more information, please call Mayor Pro Tem Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008 or email email@example.com.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/25/2020
910 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/20191017-RJR_3755.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-02-25 09:12:092020-02-25 09:13:29Reminder: Mayor To Speak at Town Hall Meeting Tonight
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin announced that Kingwood Storm-Water Line Inspections will continue and improve.
Houston Public Works will inspect junctures more critically. Martin’s office elaborated no further.
How It Works
“Most inspections already conducted have been clear,” said Martin. “Only a few spots needed debris removal.” The City, he says, addresses areas with debris in the lines prior to moving on to the next neighborhood. They use specialized equipment and “confined-space” personnel to remove the debris. To date, the City has inspected nearly 150,000 linear feet, or approximately 28 miles, of storm-water lines.
Order of Priority
The City has completed Elm Grove, Hunter’s Ridge, North & South Woodland Hills, Bear Branch, Forest Cove, Greentree Village, and Kings Crossing. This week, Houston Public Works started on Kings Point. Houston Public Works now expects to complete one community each week.
When Public Works finishes in a community, they post photos from their storm-water line inspection to Council Member Martin’s Facebook Photo Albums. If you see Houston Public Works crews conducting an inspection, Martin invites you to please say “hi” and watch how they work.
Houston Public Works has prioritized villages in Kingwood by the number of homes impacted during Imelda. The Department hopes to complete the project by June 1, 2020, weather permitting.
Working with HOAs to Alert Residents
Prior to Public Works moving to a new Village, Martin’s office will work directly with the affected HOA to make them aware of the impending storm water-line inspection.
How You Can Help Avoid Streets Flooding
Martin encourages the community to participate in the City’s Adopt-A-Drain program.
Other ways residents can help:
Make sure trash cans don’t tip over before pickup.
Dispose of yard clippings and leaves properly.
Clear gutters before bad weather.
Never throw trash down drains or inlets.
Just In Time for Storms Next Week
Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner warns, “Widespread rainfall amounts Sun-Wednesday night look to average 1-2 inches across much of the area.” However, also says we could see totals of 3-4 inches or even higher along and east of I-45 if a surface low tracks over the area next Wednesday.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/7/2020
892 Days since Harvey and 141 since Imelda
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Victim_03.jpg?fit=1000%2C1500&ssl=115001000adminadmin2020-02-07 19:29:112020-02-07 19:49:02Kingwood Storm-Water Line Inspections Update
Over the weekend, Rachel Taylor, a Lake Houston area resident who lives near the mouth bar sent me the video below. It shows an idle dredge near its starting point. The video, plus reports from boaters, fueled speculation that the mouth bar dredging had concluded. That fact was confirmed this afternoon by Houston City Council Member Dave Martin. His office issued a press release stating that FEMA had finished dredging 500,000 cubic yards of sediment from the San Jacinto West Fork Mouth Bar.
Said Council Member Dave Martin, “The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) mission assignment modification to address partial removal of the San Jacinto River West Fork mouth-bar has concluded.” The mission assignment authorized the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to remove an additional 497,400 cubic yards of debris from the West Fork near its confluence with Lake Houston. As of September 3, 2019, USACE removed 500,000 cubic yards of debris from the mouth-bar.
However, Martin never accepted the amount of debris included in the mission modification and continues to fight that number to this day.
Running, Year-Long Argument Over Volume
Council Member Martin and the City of Houston, through Chief Recovery Officer Stephen Costello, argued for almost a year to remove more sediment, believing that 500,000 cubic yards was much too low. But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
According to Martin, FEMA cannot explain how 497,400 cubic yards was calculated, even while the City of Houston has provided verifiable scientific data showing the volume deposited by Harvey near the mouth bar was 1.4 million cubic yards.
During a meeting in June, 2019, FEMA representatives verified the City’s estimate was sound. That lead Martin to believe another contract extension was feasible. In August, FEMA representatives again stated, “Your (City of Houston) data is NOT bad data”, leaving Martin with lingering questions as to why no additional modification had been granted.
As a result of the most recent meeting held in Austin, Texas, with representatives from FEMA, USACE, Texas Division of Emergency Management, City of Houston, and Governor Greg Abbott’s office, Council Member Martin along with Mayor Sylvester Turner have sent a letter to our Federal Congressional Delegation requesting action be taken to address the Hurricane Harvey debris remaining in the mouth-bar. This letter urges Senator John Cornyn, Senator Ted Cruz, Chairman Kevin Brady, and Congressman Dan Crenshaw to continue to support recovery of our area through requesting an additional mission modification from FEMA. It would enable dredging another one million cubic yards of sediment related to Hurricane Harvey.
Overall, dredging in the San Jacinto removed more than 2 million cubic yards of sediment. That will help reduce the effects of potential future flooding, but it will not restore the conveyance of the river.
Granting a second mission modification allows the use of existing pre-positioned resources as well as an estimated savings of nearly $20 million for mobilization.
The City of Houston has secured a third disposal site, Barry Madden’s property south of the river, that has already received USACE permits for another 500,000 cubic yards of sediment disposal.
Request from Council Member Martin
Martin asks residents who support the request for additional dredging to contact their federal representatives. Martin says he remains committed to removing additional sediment in the mouth-bar and will continue to fight for additional dredging at that location.
Why We Still Have A Problem
Last weekend, boaters, canoeists and kayakers reported that water depth in the mouth bar was only 3-5 feet deep. Even though the Corps has so far refused to release its plans or survey results, that’s very close to the estimate I calculated when dividing 500,000 cubic yards by the acreage within the dredge area.
However, boaters also report the water upstream from the mouth bar is almost 40 feet deep in places.
This will herd water into an underwater box canyon.
As water hits that wall, it will also slow down, dropping more sediment out of suspension faster. That, in turn, will accelerate re-deposition and quickly fill in the area that FEMA just spent $90 million dredging. What a tragic waste of tax dollars!
Benefits of Additional Dredging
Creating a consistently wide and deep channel through the mouth bar that connects upstream areas with the Lake beyond FM1960 will reduce flood damages to properties regionally and provide for increased resilience to transportation systems, water treatment systems, public/private utilities, emergency response facilities, petrochemical industries, and other critical infrastructure, in the West Fork, San Jacinto River Watershed, plus Harris, Montgomery, and Liberty Counties.
Last year, the Corps estimated the flood protection benefits to be on the order of $200 billion.
FEMA regulations allow the agency to restore a river to a prior good condition if a risk to health and human safety exists.
Given that petrochemical industries in the region produce a significant amount of the nation’s petroleum-based energy products, reducing flood risks to these plants and their workers who reside in flood-prone areas will provide greater resiliency and a National security benefit.
Environmental benefits include reduced risks to water treatment plants from flooded sand mines and chemical spills which are threats to human health and safety. Non-monetary benefits include reduced risks to life, especially among residents with insufficient means.
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin announced Saturday that Mayor Sylvester Turner has agreed to waive permit fees for the hundreds of residents affected by flooding during the heavy rains during the week of May 7. Details still need to be worked out. More news to follow soon. This is a pleasant development for people whose homes and possessions were destroyed. Every little bit helps! Permit fees are certainly more than the price of peanuts.
Posted by Bob Rehak on May 19, 2019
628 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ElmGroveFlood_12-1.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500adminadmin2019-05-19 00:32:372019-05-19 09:10:45City of Houston Intends to Waive Permit Fees for Homes Affected by Flooding May 7-9
In the statement, Figure Four denied any responsibility for the flooding and blamed it on an act of God. Further, they invoked the shield of government approval, saying their plans were approved by the City of Houston and Montgomery County.
“While our hearts go out to the homeowners that recently flooded in the Elm Grove Subdivision, the flooding there this week had absolutely nothing to do with the Figure Four and Perry Homes project nearby.”
“As virtually every media outlet in the region has reported this week, and Harris County Flood Control meteorologist Jeff Lindner confirmed, Tuesday’s rainfalls at times matched the intensity of Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Chronicle reported that “The rainfall was particularly severe in suburban areas such as Kingwood …”
“Though our project is still in the land clearing stage, many of the detention ponds are complete – providing improved drainage to the area that did not previously exist. Additionally, the drainage study and construction plans for the Figure Four project were completed by LJA Engineering, an experienced and highly respected firm and approved by the County. All City and County permits were obtained and all applicable building codes have been followed.
“Several questions have been asked about a concrete structure on the project. This structure is the outfall control device and part of the permitted and approved drainage plan. The outfall control device functioned as designed on Tuesday night. Similar to the detention ponds, the outflow control structure improved drainage in the area.”
– End of Statement –
Flaws in Argument
At the risk of clarifying the obvious, I would point out that:
Elm Grove didn’t flood during Harvey.
The improved drainage did not work as well as the previous natural drainage, which the developer filled in.
LJA and co-defendants Woodlands Land Development, L.P. and The Howard Hughes Corporation, pled for abatement of the case, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to provide them with sixty-day advance written notice of the claims. The judge then abated the case on 4/22/19.
Difference Between Woodlands and Elm Grove Cases
The Woodlands and Elm Grove situations are similar in that they both involved extreme weather events and flood damage. However, there are also some major differences. In the Woodlands case, plaintiffs occupied the land developed by the defendants. In Elm Grove, neighboring land owners were damaged during development of adjoining property.
Also, in the Woodlands case, plaintiffs alleged that the property had flooded in 1994, that defendants knew it, and that they failed to raise the property high enough to prevent flooding during Harvey. However, Elm Grove did not flood either in 1994 or during Harvey. It flooded only after clear cutting and the beginning of earthwork on the Figure Four Partner’s property.
It will be interesting to see whether any lawsuits emerge from those damaged in Elm Grove.
In the Figure Four Statement, you can see how the company is already setting up themes for their legal defense if necessary. LJA Engineering invoked the same themes during its defense of the Woodlands allegations.
In Other Developments Saturday…
Yesterday was filled with new developments and discoveries:
Elm Grove held a public meeting with a law firm to inform flooded residents of their legal rights.
Many residents of Porter came to the meeting to complain of drainage issues on the northern and western sides of the project.
It became clear that another 175-acre parcel of land was a part of the project. That parcel has also been clear cut, but no drainage “improvements” were visible.
No other precautions were visible to prevent runoff of silt such as berms, sand bags, or silt fences.
Water was ponding on neighbors’ property.
No stormwater pollution prevention permits were posted at any of the entrances to the job site that I could see. That in itself may be a violation of state regulations.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo still had not visited Kingwood or declared a disaster. Such a declaration would make residents available for assistance from government agencies.
Additional Parcel Triples Clear-Cut Acreage
Saturday, Porter residents called to my attention the fact that Figure Four Partners was also developing an even larger tract of land not visible from Kingwood.
This link shows a plat of the northern 175 acres, which Figure Four Partners called “Woodridge Village Section 3.” For those who are interested in contacting the developer or engineering company, the plat shows their addresses and phone numbers.
Thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP statute of the great state of Texas.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ElmGroveFlood_01_15.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500adminadmin2019-05-12 03:07:222019-05-12 04:28:56Figure Four Partners Denies All Responsibility for Elm Grove Flooding; Blames God
Note: I posted this this morning before a surprise storm dumped up to 10 inches of rain on the Lake Houston Area this afternoon. Now the river is expected to flood … despite the pre-release. At 7PM on Tuesday, the floodgates on Lake Houston remain wide open. As the river rises past flood stage, any thoughts of being land locked are now moot.
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin issued a press release this morning warning Lake Houston property owners to prepare for lower lake levels. Houston Public Works and the Coastal Water Authority are monitoring forecasts calling for substantial rainfall over the next several days.
Lower Lake Levels Heading Lower
Lake Houston is currently at 42.11 feet and still receiving water from weekend storms. But that’s a half inch down in the last 12 hours.
Lake Houston has a normal pool elevation of 42.5 feet. All four gates on the existing dam structure are open and will remain open with a goal of lowering the lake to 41.5 feet before the next round of rainfall. Property owners are encouraged to secure property along the shoreline.
Lake Houston is lowered if the National Weather Service predicts greater than 3 inches of rain within a 48-hour period. To monitor Lake Houston and the forecasted rain, click here.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/7/2019
616 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Houston-Map-Lake.png?fit=800%2C509&ssl=1509800adminadmin2019-05-07 11:56:232019-05-07 18:44:06Lake Houston Property Owners Should Prepare for Lower Lake Levels (or Not)