Houston City Council Approves $29 Million More For Dredging, Sand Trap Tests
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin has announced that Houston City Council unanimously accepted an additional $29,000,000 in state grant funds to continue dredging around the canals and channels of Lake Houston. The money will also help start a pilot program to trap sediment upstream before it reaches the lake, thereby hopefully reducing dredging costs in the long run.
East Side of Lake
The additional funding will allow dredging activities to start on the east side of Lake Houston in the various canals/channels. Martin emphasized, however, that they have some touch up work to do on Rogers Gully on the west side of the lake before they move to the east side.
Once on the east side, dredging will start near FM1960 and work its way south. The City has not yet established a firm timeline.
DRC will handle the dredging. That is the same company that has handled the dredging since the Corps finished its Emergency West Fork Dredging program several years ago.
The company will deposit the spoils at the same marina it has used for the last year.
DRC will reportedly use mechanical, not hydraulic dredging. That means, they’ll be working with long-armed excavators and scooping dirt onto pontoons. See second picture below.
Pilot Sand-Trap Program
Part of the $29 million will also go towards implementing a pilot program testing sand traps upstream of Lake Houston. The goal: capture silt and sediment coming down the San Jacinto West Fork before it ever reaches Lake Houston.
If successful, this could reduce long-term dredging costs. The pilot program will rely on sand miners to excavate sand from point bars outside their mines. But there are few, if any, mines upstream on Cypress and Spring Creeks, where the miners claim most of the sediment is coming from. So that could limit the replicability of the test, even if successful on the West Fork.
More than 4 Million Cubic Yards Dredged to Date
“Tremendous progress has been made since Hurricane Harvey through the completion of FEMA, Texas Water Development Board, Harris County, and City of Houston projects,” said Martin. “Since 2018, the total combined efforts of these entities have resulted in approximately 4,004,008 cubic yards of silt and sediment dredged from Lake Houston and its tributaries at a total cost of $222 million.” That money has come from federal, state, and local funding sources.
Blockages like those above can back water up during storms, and flood homes and businesses.
Martin passed out kudos to those who supported the $29 million appropriation. Martin thanked former State Representative Dan Huberty and Senator Brandon Creighton for their commitment to seeing this project through and their dedication to the long-term maintenance dredging on Lake Houston.
“Harris County Commissioner Precinct 3, Tom Ramsey, and Harris County Flood Control District have also been terrific partners,” said Martin. “I also want to thank my colleagues on City Council, Mayor Sylvester Turner for his unwavering support for Lake Houston, and Chief Recovery Officer Stephen Costello for his continued diligence on flood mitigation efforts.”
Status of Dredging District Legislation
State Representative Charles Cunningham introduced HB 5341 this year. The bill would have created a Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District to handle sediment issues like these in perpetuity. The bill received a public hearing on 4/11/23, but unfortunately, it has stalled in the Natural Resources Committee since then. So has HB 1093, a bill which would have assured cleanup of abandoned sand mines.
With time running out in this session, we will likely need to recycle those bills for the next session.
More news to follow when the dredging starts.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/11/2023 based on information from the Houston District E office and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin
2081 Days since Hurricane Harvey