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