Tag Archive for: E&R contract

Woodridge Village Plans Still on Hold, But that Could Change Soon

Back in November 2023, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) terminated its excavation and removal contract with Sprint Sand and Clay. The 2021 contract called for Sprint to remove up to 500,000 cubic yards of material from Woodridge Village. Had the full amount been excavated, it would have more than doubled the stormwater detention basin capacity on the site.

Extent of excavation at end of Woodridge Village E&R Contract with Sprint. Photo: 12/28/31.

Only About A Third of Max Volume Excavated

But at the time HCFCD terminated the contract, Sprint had excavated only 160,748 cubic yards, an amount equal to 100 acre feet, and only about a third of the maximum allowed under the contract.

When HCFCD purchased the Woodridge Village property from Perry Homes, the site had only 70% of Atlas 14 requirements (the new standard for a 100-year storm). The lack of detention capacity contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes in Kingwood along Taylor Gully twice in 2019.

In the end, the 160,748 cubic yards meant that the site had 96% of Atlas 14 requirements. But significantly, the additional capacity is still just a hole in the ground. It has not yet been tied into other Woodridge detention basins or drainage channels.

Termination Caused by HUD Rule

The rationale for termination of the contract had nothing to do with Sprint’s performance. Rather, it had to do with an unintended consequence of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule.

HCFCD hoped to pay for both Taylor Gully and Woodridge Village with HUD funds. But a HUD rule states that HUD funds cannot pay for work already completed on a project when a grant application is submitted.

As a result, when HCFCD applies for a HUD grant, it must:

  • Zero out work completed to date and stop work.
  • Estimate the cost of remaining work.
  • Wait for an award determination.

The rule also affected several other E&R projects in Harris County, such as one on TC Jester next to Cypress Creek.

It’s especially painful in this case because HCFCD listed the Woodridge Village stormwater detention basin as an alternate project for HUD funding. That means, it would only be considered if a fatal flaw knocked one of HCFCD’s primary recommendations out of the running.

HCFCD Exploring Alternative

Amy Crouser, an HCFCD spokesperson said, “Woodridge must be treated as if it were funded by HUD and GLO, which means that we cannot perform any choice-limiting actions on the site, such as the E&R contract. It will be some time before we know if any alternate projects will move to the ‘funded list.’”  

Crouser then added, “However, we are investigating whether we can split the Woodridge Village Stormwater Detention Basin into two projects. That may offer some flexibility in getting the E&R contract reinstated. We should have an answer in the next few weeks.”

HCFCD has not yet publicly released the final engineering studies on Woodridge or Taylor Gully.

With interest rates falling, housing starts may pick up and increase demand for fill dirt. That could eliminate the only real drawback of an E&R contract; they can be time consuming if demand for dirt is low. Otherwise, they represent exceptional value for taxpayers. Sprint made only $1,000 from the contract but made its money back by selling the dirt at market rates.

Status of Excavation At Year End

Here’s where things stood at the end of 2023:

Acre Feet of Stormwater Detention% of Atlas-14 Requirement% of Ultimate
Site Had When Purchased from Perry Homes27170%47%
Had as of 12/31/2337196%63.9%
Atlas 14 Requires385100%66%
Had Sprint Excavated All 500,000 CY580150%100%
As of 12/31/23, nothing but the cool winter wind could be heard howling through Woodridge Village.

Stay tuned for more news as it develops.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/3/2023

2318 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Woodridge Village Excavation Reached 92% of Atlas-14 Requirements in June

At the end of June, stormwater detention basin excavation on Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) Woodridge Village property reached 92% of Atlas-14 requirements. When HCFCD bought the property from Perry Homes in 2021, it had only 70% of the required detention capacity under Atlas 14.

Atlas-14 defines the current standard for safely containing a 100-year rainfall. The lack of detention basin capacity contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes along Taylor Gully twice in 2019, after Perry contractors clearcut the property.

HCFCD and City of Houston purchased the property from Perry in March 2021. Excavation of additional detention capacity started in January 2022.

June/July Photos Show Progress

The first photo below was taken at the beginning of June 2023 so you can see how much progress has been made in the last month.

Looking ENEExtent of Excavation on June 4, 2023

The second shows the site at the beginning of July 2023. The primary changes seem to be additional depth and length.

July 1, 2023 photo shows additional depth at far end of project.

HCFCD spokesperson Amy Crouser said that, “Essentially, the contractor is free to excavate where they want within the provided footprint.”

Rough layout for new Woodridge basin.
Green area indicates rough outline of new basin.

Where Does Woodridge Village Excavation Go From Here?

HCFCD’s Excavation and Removal contract with Sprint Sand & Clay calls for excavating up to 500,000 cubic yards. Sprint excavated approximately another 8,000 cubic yards in June. That equals approximately 5 acre feet.

If Sprint keeps excavating at that rate, the table below shows that it could reach Atlas 14 requirements by the end of this year.

However, Sprint’s contract calls for excavating UP TO 500,000 cubic yards. Any excavation beyond Atlas-14 needs would create a safety hedge against future needs should they increase. 

NOAA is already working on updating the Atlas 14 requirements and should release Atlas 15 before the end of this decade.

Here’s how all that looks in a table.

Acre Feet of Stormwater Detention% of Atlas-14 Requirement% of Ultimate
Site Had When Purchased from Perry Homes27170%47%
Has as of 7/1/2335392%61%
Atlas 14 Requires385100%66%
If Sprint Excavates All 500K Cubic Feet580150%100%
Calculations based on original construction plans, HCFCD monthly reports, Atlas-14 Requirements and Sprint contract.
Sprint could excavate down to or even slightly past the small grove of trees in the top center. Photo taken July 1, 2023.

Sprint will make only $1,000 from its Woodridge Village excavation contract with HCFCD, but will make its profit by selling the dirt at market rates. It’s a good deal for taxpayers, but carries some uncertainty with it.

If the demand for dirt dries up and excavation slows, HCFCD and Sprint could modify the E&R contract to complete a smaller detention basin sooner. But I assume it would still meet Atlas 14 requirements at a minimum.

But simply excavating the dirt isn’t the end of the job. Harris County still needs to slope the sides, plant grass, and tie the new basin into the site’s existing stormwater-detention-basin network. Engineers are reportedly working on plans for all that, according to HCFCD.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/1/2023

2132 Days since Hurricane Harvey

In May, Woodridge Village Excavation Total Reached Almost 124,000 Cubic Yards


Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) Woodridge Village Excavation and Removal contract for 500,000 cubic yards with Sprint Sand & Clay is almost one-quarter complete. Sprint excavated approximately another 9,000 cubic yards in May (5.8 acre feet). That’s almost double the monthly minimum and brings the total up to 123,882 cubic yards.

Stormwater from Woodridge Village flooded hundreds of homes twice in 2019. The excavation will provide additional stormwater detention capacity to reduce flood risk downstream in the future.

May/June Photos Show Progress

The first two photos below were taken at the beginning of May and June 2023.

Sprint Sand and Clay Excavation and Removal Contract work at Woodridge Village
Looking ENE. Extent of excavation on May 2, 2023
Looking ENE. Extent of Excavation on June 4, 2023

Up until now, Sprint has been excavating from west to east. Now, they seem to be excavating primarily from south to north.

HCFCD spokesperson Amy Crouser said that, “Essentially, the contractor is free to excavate where they want within the provided footprint.”

Looking east across new focus of excavation.

Where Does Woodridge Village Excavation Go From Here?

Sprint has excavated 76.8 acre feet so far. That brings the current detention capacity (old plus new) to 348 acre feet. That’s 90% of what Woodridge Village needs to meet Atlas-14 requirements.

If Sprint keeps excavating at the current rate, it could reach Atlas-14 requirements before the end of the year.

Here’s how all that looks in a table.

Acre Feet of Stormwater Detention% of Ultimate
Site Had When Purchased from Perry Homes27147%
Has as of 6/4/2334860%
Atlas 14 Requires38566%
If Sprint Excavates All 500K Cubic Feet580100%
Calculations based on original construction plans, HCFCD monthly reports, Atlas-14 Requirements and Sprint contract.

Sprint’s contract calls for excavating UP TO 500,000 cubic yards. Any excavation beyond Atlas-14 needs would create a safety hedge against future needs should they increase. 

Sprint will make only $1,000 from its Woodridge Village excavation contract, but will make its profit by selling the dirt at market rates. It’s a good deal for taxpayers, but carries some uncertainty with it.

A lot of flexibility exists for both parties in an E&R contract. If the demand for dirt dries up and excavation slows, HCFCD and Sprint could modify the E&R contract to complete a smaller detention basin sooner. But I assume it would still meet Atlas 14 requirements at a minimum.

But simply excavating the dirt isn’t the end of the job. Harris County still needs to slope the sides, plant grass, and tie the new basin into the site’s existing stormwater-detention-basin network. 

HCFCD and Harris County Purchasing are currently evaluating consultants’ bids to draw up the final construction plans.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/5/2023

2106 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Rate of Woodridge Village Excavation Increases 47%

The rate of excavation for another stormwater detention basin on the Woodridge Village property picked up 47% in the last five weeks. That’s compared to the weekly average since Sprint Sand and Clay began excavating last year under the terms of its Excavation and Removal (E&R) contract with Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD).

  • The current weekly rate is the highest since last July.
  • As of:
    • January 30, 2023, Sprint had excavated 80,360 cubic yards (CY)
    • March 6, 2023, Sprint has excavated 93,023 CY, according to HCFCD.
  • Dividing the difference by five weeks, yields an average of 2,532.6 CY per week.
  • The weekly average since the start of excavation 54 weeks ago equals 1722.7 CY.
  • So, the February/early March data is an increase of more than 800 cubic yards per week compared to the long-term average, a 47% increase.

Demand for dirt under E&R contracts varies with housing starts and road construction. Housing starts have slowed greatly in recent months as interest rates have increased to cool inflation. It’s not clear yet whether the increased rate of excavation represents a temporary blip or the beginning of a turnaround in the market for dirt.

Then and Now Photos

Here’s the extent of excavation on the new pond as of January 24, 2023.

Woodridge Village Detention Pond #6
Woodridge Village Detention Basin #6 at the end of January 2023. Contractors have not yet connected the new basin to others.

Here’s how the new basin looks today from approximately the same location – much longer!

Same location at start of March.
Sprint has not yet reached the end of S1, the detention basin on the right.
Looking south toward Kingwood. Sprint has the width of four or five more houses to go before it reaches as far as the end of S1. The tree line in the background is the Harris/Montgomery County line.

Increased Rate is Welcome News

The increase in the excavation rate is welcome news for residents who flooded twice in 2019, thanks in large part to Woodridge Village construction practices. Perry Homes left the aborted development about 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements. Since then HCFCD and the City of Houston bought the site and are working on ways to reduce flood risk.

E&R contracts give HCFCD a low-cost head start on mitigation as engineers finalize plans. Knowing that they will need additional stormwater detention capacity, HCFCD established a flexible contract with Sprint for only $1,000. It lets Sprint remove up 500,000 CY and sell the dirt at market rates. This virtually eliminates a major construction cost and provides major savings to taxpayers.

Sprint is obligated to remove a minimum average of 5,000 CY per month and must place the dirt outside of the 100-year floodplain. The contract lasts three years.

Sprint will excavate within the red line. If they move the total 500,000 cubic yards, they will more than double stormwater detention capacity on the site.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/6/2023

2015 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1264 since 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.

Progress Report New Woodridge Village Floodwater Detention Basin

A new floodwater detention basin that will ultimately more than double the capacity of Woodridge Village is expanding slowly but steadily. To date, 33,159 cubic yards have been excavated! The pictures below show progress since the start of work in late January.

Photos showing Progress

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) announced the project on 11/24/2021. Excavation started on 1/27/22.

beginning of Woodridge Village excavation
First truckloads of of excavated material leave the southwest corner of the site on 1/27/22. Looking SW.
Wider shot taken on same day looking NE looking in opposite direction. The new basin will eventually expand to cover most of the area within the road, tree-line on the left, and the ditch that bisects the property from left to right.
Photo taken on 2/14/22 shows the excavation expanding. Looking SW.
Four days later. 2/18/22. Looking SW toward entrance.
Another three days later, on 2/21/22.
3/10/22
3/22/22 after a 2.26 inch rain.
3/28/22. Looking NE.
4/17/22. Looking SW.
Basin will ultimately expand to green boundary.

About Vendor’s Contract

The stormwater detention basin still has a long way to go before it reaches its ultimate size. HCFCD is excavating it under the terms of an E&R (Excavation and Removal) contract with Sprint Sand and Clay.

Sprint has agreed to remove up to 500,000 Cubic Yards of dirt for only $1,000. However, it has the right to sell the dirt at market rates to make a profit. But the dirt can only elevate structures outside of current floodplains.

Three Months Into Contract, Beating the Minimums

When Perry Homes finished its planned floodwater detention basins, it had enough capacity to hold a hundred year rain as defined by pre-Atlas-14 standards. But capacity fell 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements.

The addition of the new detention basin should take capacity well beyond Atlas-14 requirements and create a safety margin that accommodates additional upstream development.

Excavation under an E&R contract can have ups and downs. When construction booms, excavation moves along quickly. But when construction slows, excavation can, too. However, the contract does have minimum excavation requirement of 10,000 cubic yards per month written into it.

At 36,000 cubic yards after roughly 2.5 months, Sprint exceeds the minimum. But if that rate continues, it could take another four years to reach 500,000 cubic yards.

At some point, the county may choose to step in and pay market rates for excavation to speed things up. But until then, every truckload hauled out of Woodridge Village by Sprint will reduce the ultimate cost.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/18/2022

1693 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Excavation of Additional Woodridge Village Detention Pond to Begin Soon

Here’s something to give thanks for on Thanksgiving. Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) announced Wednesday, 11/24/21, that Sprint Sand & Clay could begin excavation of another large detention pond on the Woodridge Village property as early as November 29. Lack of detention pond capacity on the property while it was being cleared contributed to flooding hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019.

Homeowners evacuating during Imelda.

Not Enough Detention Pond Capacity Existed to Meet Atlas-14 Requirements

Even after Perry Homes finished building the detention ponds in its plans, the volume still fell about 40% short of the capacity needed to meet Atlas-14 requirements.

Thus, the twice-flooded homeowners have been living in constant fear since then of every storm that passes overhead. PTSD caused some to postpone home restoration or even move away. So this should come as great news to the community.

HCFCD purchased the Woodridge Village property earlier this year. Harris County Commissioners then approved a contract for excavation in July. The excavation could be sporadic, however, because of the nature of the contract.

Sprint Sand & Clay will excavate material as needed under the terms of an HCFCD E&R contract. E&R stands for Excavation & Removal. HCFCD will pay Sprint just $1000 to excavate 500,000 cubic yards. Sprint then has the right to resell the dirt to developers, contractors and road builders at market rates.

The 500,000 cubic yards should more than compensate for the 40% shortfall of detention on the Woodridge site.

Creating Extra Capacity

When Perry left the site, it had constructed 271 acre feet of detention. The site needed another 108.4 acre feet of detention pond capacity to meet Atlas-14 requirements, but will get 310 (the number of acre feet in 500,000 cubic yards). That almost triples the required additional volume and more than doubles the current capacity…all for $1000.

That extra capacity will create a margin of safety for residents in case expected rainfall rates increase again in the future.

It will also create a buffer against future development. For instance, it should help those downstream on Taylor Gully where it joins White Oak Creek. Rapid development continues upstream on White Oak Creek.

Nature of Contract Will Lower Cost, but Could Extend Completion Date

The nature of an E&R contract benefits taxpayers from a cost standpoint. It’s like getting free help. However, there’s also a potential hitch; demand fluctuation could delay the dirt’s removal. The contract obligates Sprint to remove a minimum of 5,000 cubic yards per month. But Sprint can average that, taking 10,000 cubic yards one month and none the next.

Thus, Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents might see furious excavation activity one month and none the next.

Regardless, HCFCD checks progress periodically with drones. And if Sprint looks like it is not complying, HCFCD has the right to terminate the contract. Otherwise, removal of the dirt could take up to three years.

The contract gives Sprint the right to sell the dirt anywhere with one condition. The ultimate placement must be outside any known floodplain – including the 500-year/0.02% annual chance floodplain.

This is the first time HCFCD has signed such a contract for work outside of Harris County. Woodridge Village sits in Montgomery County immediately north of the county line.

HCFCD started using E&R contracts all over Harris County long before the Bond. It was a way to show progress on detention basins that HCFCD had no money to build. The Cutten Road, Lauder Road, and Aldine-Westfield basins on Greens Bayou all started with E&R contracts.

Pond Will Go in Southern Section of Woodridge

The detention pond excavation will take place close to Sherwood Trails and Elm Grove to help intercept water coming off the steep northern portion of the site. See the green area below.

The new pond will also border the road that Perry built into the site. That will help facilitate removal of the dirt. See the photo below.

Looking East. Woodridge Village as of November 11, 2021. The new detention pond will go in the big empty area between the road and ditch which leads from upper left to top middle. Sherwood Trails, Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest are inside the trees on the right.

Construction Must Observe Stormwater Quality Requirements

HCFCD emphasized that all normal stormwater quality precautions will remain in effect. Rain that falls during excavation will be pumped into one of the site’s existing detention ponds (on the right in the photo above) to keep sediment from migrating downstream. That’s important because HCFCD just finished excavating Taylor Gully to restore its conveyance. No one wants to see it get plugged up again.

Site Closed During Construction

The construction work involves heavy machinery. Physical barriers and safety signage alerting visitors will be placed at access points. Residents should follow all posted signs and remain clear of the construction zone.

Trucks Will Work Around High-School Schedule

HCFCD has coordinated the contractor’s work schedule with administrators at Kingwood Park High School and Humble ISD to avoid arrival and departure times at the high school.

For More Info

If you’re tracking the progress of this on the HCFCD website, look for “Excavation and Removal Project at Former Woodridge Property” under Kingwood Information in the SAN JACINTO Watershed:

  • Project ID: G503-06-00-E002
  • Bond ID: Z-02

HCFCD also maintains Facebook and Twitter pages.

The City of Houston purchased the northern 70 acres of the site for a wastewater treatment facility. But the fate of the rest of site has not yet been decided. Community groups have reportedly been lobbying to turn the area into a wooded park with trails. A decision could come on that in the next few months.

HCFCD officials emphasized that the final dimensions of the pond could change as excavation proceeds. But dimensions should be determined long before Sprint finishes excavation.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/25/2021

1549 Days since Hurricane Harvey