Damn the downstream consequences, including sediment pollution, increased flood risk and monstrous dredging costs. Colony Ridge, the controversial 30+ square-mile, Liberty County development that markets to Hispanics – while flaunting drainage, environmental and fire regulations – is clearing and paving thousands of additional acres.
Not even Google Earth can keep up with the developer’s relentless expansion. On 8/12/23, I flew over Colony Ridge in a helicopter and found huge areas where 3-week-old satellite imagery was already hopelessly out of date.
With the exception of areas protected by the Houston-Conroe and Tarkington Bayou Mitigation Banks, the highlighted areas above have largely been cleared and/or paved.
The RED area now has paving not visible in the satellite image. The YELLOW area was being cleared and paving was just starting even though the image shows none of that. So what do these areas look like from a few hundred feet?
Pictures Taken 8/12/23 over Red Area
I shot the four pictures below on 8/12/23. They represent dozens of others. The red area already has most streets, but no fire hydrants.
Pictures Taken over Yellow Area
The two pictures below show some of the development activity taking pace in the yellow area.
What kind of homes will go here? To predict the future, look to the past.
Homes on Parade
Colony Ridge is the world’s largest trailer park. One Plum Grove resident who lives near a northern entrance to Colony Ridge says she routinely sees up to seven mobile homes per day going into the development – seven days per week.
It’s hard to know exactly how many new homes arrive each day, because there are other entrances. But if you assume the max for this one entrance, 50 homes a week times 52 weeks makes up to 2600 homes per year.
Note the erosion in photos above and below. It will make its way downstream into the East Fork San Jacinto. These ditches are typical of Colony Ridge. The eroded sediment will reduce conveyance of the river and contribute to flooding.
Poverty: The Mother of Pollution
Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the mother of pollution.” That’s certainly the case here. But I would modify the saying. While poverty may be the mother of pollution; greed is the father.
The poverty of the residents doesn’t cause sediment pollution. But a business plan built on high-interest-rate, owner financing that targets impoverished people with few options does.
It’s a market ripe for exploitation where corners can be cut. Residents have few options and can’t complain.
And the developer shows little interest in changing a business model that fuels relentless expansion and growth. Damn the downstream consequences.
In virtually every area I have photographed, he has not planted vegetation on the banks of the channels. Nor has he used silt fences or installed backslope interceptor swales to reduce erosion as Liberty County regulations require.
Instead of the developer bearing those costs, downstream residents in the Lake Houston Area do. Since Harvey, the Army Corps, Harris County and City of Houston have spent more than $220 million of your tax dollars to dredge excess sediment shed from rivers of mud like this.
The poverty in Colony Ridge is crushing. I’ve seen people sleeping in tents trying to save enough money to buy a camper to live in.
The estimated population of Colony Ridge is now greater than the three largest cities in Liberty County (Cleveland, Dayton, and Liberty) put together. No one knows what the population is with certainty because of the large number of undocumented aliens who did not participate in the last census.
And the Colony Ridge developer is expanding into Harris and Montgomery Counties. ReduceFlooding will monitor progress of those areas to see if they, too, contribute to sediment accumulation, dredging costs, and flooding.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/9/23
Posted by Bob Rehak 2202 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.