Tag Archive for: dry bottom

Laurel Springs RV Park Still Ignoring FAA Safety Requirement

No. Airplanes won’t be taking off and landing at the Laurel Springs RV resort any time soon. The headline has to do with an FAA rule that prohibits wet-bottom stormwater detention basins within five miles of airports.

Because of this pond’s location near IAH airport, the FAA and City of Houston require the stormwater detention basin to have a dry bottom within 48 hours after a storm. The requirement helps discourage birds, especially geese and other large waterfowl, from taking up residence close to the airport. That’s an important consideration, especially during the migration season, which we are in right now.

Wet-bottom ponds attract ducks and geese that create a hazard for aircraft taking off, landing or circling.

Problem Still Not Fixed

I first posted about this in May of this year and was told that the “Resort” hadn’t hooked up electricity to its pumps yet. Now, it’s almost six months later. And the pond is still holding water longer than allowed.

A retired airline captain who lives near the RV resort keeps calling this to my attention.

Evidently, he takes bird strikes far more seriously than the City inspector or resort owners. And little wonder!

If you google “airplane damage from bird strikes,” you find this horrifying collection of images.

Screen capture from Google search.

16,000 Bird Strikes in U.S. Each Year

The FAA records 16,000 bird strikes in the U.S. each year. And they cause $400 million in damages to commercial aircraft.

Ninety percent of bird strikes happen under 3,000 feet during takeoff or landing. This video explains the dangers and shows dramatic footage of the damage birds can cause when they come through a windshield, hit a wing, or get sucked into an engine. The greatest danger is when planes are close to the ground and pilots have little time to react or recover.

In extreme cases, bird strikes have even brought down airliners. In 2009, US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger reported a “double bird strike” that crippled both engines just after takeoff. Luckily, he managed to ditch his plane in the Hudson River without any fatalities.

Every-Other-Day Occurrence at IAH

Lest you think the problem is rare or trivial in the Houston area, the FAA maintains a publicly available online database that lets you customize searches. You can search by State, Airport, Operator, Date Ranges, Aircraft Type, Engine Type, Damage, and even the type of birds or other wildlife involved.

In the first three quarters of 2022, the FAA received 149 reports of bird strikes at Bush Intercontinental Airport. That’s out of 272 days. So…

Planes landing or departing IAH hit birds on MOST days.

Bush IAH reported 155 in all of 2019, 98 in all of 2020, and 139 in all of 2021.

Laurel Springs Basin Still Holds Water Too Long

The approved drainage plans for the Laurel Springs RV Resort stormwater detention basin show the note below.

screen capture from detention and drainage permit plans
Basin should be dry 48 hours after a 100-year storm. But today, it wasn’t dry 48 hours after a less-than-1-year storm.

The relevant portions of this 28-page advisory and its update explain that…

The FAA discourages land uses that attract or sustain hazardous wildlife within five (5) miles of airports to protect aircraft.

The detention pond for the Laurel Springs RV Resort falls within that radius from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and therefore the FAA and City mandate dry-bottom detention basins.

Laurel Springs RV Resort Detention Basin. Photo taken 11/13/22, 48 hours after storm.

The official gage at the San Jacinto West Fork and US 59 – just blocks away – recorded 1.32 inches of rain on 11/11/2022.

rainfall 11.11.22
Official rainfall at nearest gage.

That amount is one third of a 1-year rain, according to Atlas-14 standards. That’s far less than a 100-year rain which the resort is required to pump out within 48 hours. But 48-hours later, as you can see, it’s still there.

The checkered history of this RV resort deserves yet another investigation. At one time, there were four simultaneous investigations into its drainage. Seems they still haven’t gotten the message. While the risk of a bird from their pond bringing down an airliner is very low, does any responsible individual want to defend ignoring FAA advice? Those are lessons learned the hard way.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/13/22

1902 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.

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.