The pier, which had grown old, sustained damage during recent floods. The planks had so much give in them, that I often wondered if they would hold me.
It’s Finally Time
After Harvey, though, KSA had so much work to do in the park – removing sand, replacing pavement, fixing fields, restoring restrooms, and dredging in front of the boardwalk – that replacement of the pier just had to wait, according to Dee Price, KSA president.
Earlier this year, KSA had a professional engineer draw up specs and then it solicited bids. “The winning bid was affordable and the contractor is doing excellent work,” said Price.
I would second that from everything I saw today at the park. Both the wood and workmanship appear top notch. This will make an excellent addition to the park.
Pics of New Pier Under Construction
Expected Completion Soon
Price says she expects the work to be done this week or next, depending on weather. The launch remains open in the meantime, but is blocked periodically for short periods by the pile driver as you see here.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/2/2021
1526 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/20211101-DJI_0655.jpg?fit=1200%2C799&ssl=17991200adminadmin2021-11-01 21:44:062021-11-01 21:44:10KSA Replacing River Grove Boat-Launch Pier
Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) contractors have completed removal of virtually another 10,000 cubic yards of sediment that had accumulated in Bens Branch between Rocky Woods Drive and Kingwood Drive. While a little cleanup work and equipment removal remains, we can call this job “well done.”
Scope of Work Completed
HCFCD widened and deepened half mile stretch of the creek/ditch. Flood Control also re-sloped the banks, straightened the flow lines, replaced backslope interceptor drains, restored the original conveyance of the ditch, and replanted grass.
Tens of Millions in Nearby Damages during Harvey
During Harvey, dozens of homes flooded along both sides of this channelized stream. So did Kingwood High School and the old H-E-B shopping center north of Kingwood Drive. The shopping center is still mostly vacant because of flood damage. And the Humble ISD spent $70 million to restore Kingwood High School which flooded to the second floor.
Approximately 1000 Truckloads of Sediment Removed
Given that your average dump truck holds about 10 cubic yards, contractors removed about a 1000 truckloads of sediment during this phase of the Bens Branch project.
HCFCD says it has no plans at this time to address the portion from the Y to the West Fork near Kings Harbor.
Thanks to the women and men of HCFCD and their contractors who kept the Bens Branch project moving through the pandemic. And to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service which provided partial funding.
Thanks also to the Bear Branch Trail Association, Kingwood Service Association and Kings Forest CA. All helped provide access to the project area across their property.
Onward to other projects such as Woodridge Village Detention, Taylor Gully restoration, and Diversion Ditch expansion. More on those in future posts.
Posted by Bob Rehak on April 17, 2021
1328 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/20210416-DJI_0406.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2021-04-17 11:26:412021-04-19 12:56:36HCFCD Completes Removal of Another 10,000 Cubic Yards From Bens Branch
One of the most beautiful parts of Kingwood also helps protect the area from flooding: East End Park. If you’ve never seen it, you should. The park comprises 158 acres and contains about five miles of nature trails. With the help of boardwalks, the trails wind through wetlands that form the perimeter of the park.
Those wetlands help slow runoff during storms. And the park itself puts distance and elevation between the East Fork of the San Jacinto and the nearest homes.
Park Almost Became Another Subdivision During 1980s
The park was not always destined to become a park. Originally Friendswood Development wanted to build another subdivision where the park is now. As Friendswood cut streets in nearby Kings Point, they dumped the extra dirt in what is now the park’s giant meadow. That’s why it’s so much higher than surrounding wetlands.
But in 1988, the EPA issued a cease and desist order because they were jeopardizing the wetlands. Blocked from further development, Friendswood tried to turn a problem into an amenity that could add value to homebuyers. The company donated the land to the Kingwood Service Association to own and operate as a park for the benefit of all Kingwood residents.
Development as Nature Park in 2000s
Not much happened with the park for about a decade. Then KSA, with the help of volunteer groups, like the Boy Scouts, started building a small trail network, mostly on the north side of the park.
Around 2000, KSA debated the future of the remainder of the park. Should they turn it into more sports fields? Or keep it a nature park? The nature park faction won out. And for the next fifteen years, KSA slowly built new trails and improved old ones as money became available.
The Lake Houston Nature Club has documented approximately 150 species of birds in the park, some threatened or endangered. In season, birders seem everywhere. Migrating birds munch on the abundant tall grass which seems to go to seed just in time for the migration.
In the park, I’ve spotted everything from painted buntings to majestic bald eagles. In fact, part of the park is named Eagle Point because of the frequent eagle sightings there.
Healing Power of Nature
Shortly after KSA put in the Eagle Point Trail, I encountered a man sitting in the same place on the river bank day after day. I asked him what his attraction was to that particular place. He said that it helped him heal. I asked if he wanted to explain that. He said he was undergoing treatment for cancer and the the beauty gave him the will to go on living. I suspect he’s not the only one who has found sustenance in nature there.
One often sees families walking with young children there. I also suspect kids learn to translate the love they feel from parents on such walks into a lifelong love of nature.
Sadly both Harvey and Imelda completely inundated the park. Eagle Point became covered with 10-15 feet of sand which killed many of the trees there and filled in some of the wetlands. Regardless, the park remains a natural gem and a living lesson about the cycles of nature.
The pictures below show some of the natural beauty. To get to the park, take Kingwood Drive east until you run out of road. You can see the park entrance from the parking lot.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/8/2020
1168 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 416 since Imelda
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20201023-DJI_0896-copy.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=19001200adminadmin2020-11-07 19:26:012020-11-08 10:40:39East End Park from the Air: A Wetlands Success Story
The storm deposited so much sand in this park, there were times when I doubted it could be restored. The park’s comeback is a remarkable tribute to a handful of dedicated volunteers and contractors (led by Dee Price and Bruce Casto), with big assists from the people of Kingwood, the Army Corps of Engineers and Kayden Industries.
Here are the slides and text from Price’s presentation to the BizCom meeting. The presentation also includes information about KSA, which newcomers may find helpful.
Dee Price BizCom Presentation on River Grove Park
Good Morning. I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about the recovery of Kingwood’s River Grove Park from the impact of Hurricane Harvey. But first let me give you a brief overview of the Kingwood Service Association aka KSA.
KSA is a Texas non-profit corporation that was chartered in September 1976 by the Kingwood developer. Its stated purpose is to provide for community, civic, and social welfare in the Kingwood area and to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the Kingwood area residents.
Carrying out this purpose has evolved over the years as Kingwood became part of the City of Houston.
Representing 32 community and commercial associations throughout Kingwood, KSA has continued to be a focal point in working community-wide issues that impact multiple villages in Kingwood.
KSA owns, operates, and maintains the five major parks in Kingwood. It also maintains the two major entries into Kingwood at Kingwood Drive and North Park Drive. KSA actually owns the entrance area on Kingwood Drive on which the ponds are located.
Like many areas in Kingwood, River Grove Park was heavily impacted by Hurricane Harvey. A huge amount of sand was deposited in the park. In addition, many of the park facilities suffered a significant amount of damage. The pictures on the slide above illustrate the amount of damage suffered.
It took a significant amount of effort to recover from the damage caused by the hurricane. First, we had to remove 364 truckloads of sand. We had to drill a new well, pressure wash all of the park facilities, and repair the damage to the facilities. We also had to restore the sports fields closest to the river that had been inundated by sand deposits.
The final step of dredging the portion of the river along the park’s perimeter had to be put on hold until the US Army Corps of Engineers completed their project to dredge the San Jacinto River. The Corps removed the big sand bar formed during Harvey that was blocking access to the river from River Grove Park. This was a big help to KSA and very much appreciated.
Once the Corps was finished with their dredging project, KSA was able to proceed on its project to dredge the area along its boardwalk and boat ramp. The picture shows that a large amount of sand was deposited in the area by Harvey.
Since the dredging had been put on hold for 3 years, vegetation took hold on the sand and had to be removed before the dredging itself could begin.
Once the vegetation was removed the removal of the sand could proceed. Ultimately, the project removed 10,000 cubic yards of sand, dewatered the sand on-site using a dewatering machine, and then hauled off the sand to an approved location.
The project took 3 months to complete including working during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. The boat ramp, which was closed in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, was re-opened in April 2020 and has been heavily used since that time.
The last slide is a picture of the park after the first stage of recovery had been completed and the park was re-opened in March 2018. That concludes my discussion. Thank you very much.
The spirit and tenacity of volunteers in Kingwood are one of the things that make this such a great place to live.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/7/2020with thanks to Dee Price, KSA, the KSA Parks Committee, Bruce Casto, Kayden Industries, the Army Corps of Engineersand people of Kingwood
1074 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/LHCC-Bizcom-08-06-2020_Dee-Price_Page_09.jpg?fit=1023%2C765&ssl=17651023adminadmin2020-08-07 09:41:422020-08-07 09:41:57The Remarkable Restoration of River Grove Park After Harvey
In a meeting today, the Houston Planning Commission deferred automatic approval of the general plan for Orchard Seeded Ranches by taking the item off the consent agenda. The Commission then asked the developer to consult with the City Engineer; the Planning and Development Department; and Harris County Flood Control before bringing further requests back to the Commission.
Taking the item off today’s consent agenda should send a strong signal to the developer that rough waters lie ahead. Any proposal will likely be debated publicly when/if the developer returns.
For orientation, the developed area in the middle is the Barrington. The line down the west side is Woodland Hills Drive. And the river at the bottom is the West Fork.
Filing a “general plan” like this is the first step in developing property. The developer has not yet submitted detailed plats showing construction details.
Virtually Entire Development in Floodway or Floodplain
About half of the Orchard Seeded Ranches lies in the floodway of the San Jacinto West Fork. FEMA defines floodways as the main current of a river during a flood. In the map below, that includes everything beneath the red line.
Virtually all of the purple area above the red line lies in the floodplain. FEMA defines a floodplain as “storage” for water during a flood. That means water covers the land without moving rapidly.
I created the map above by combining the area to be developed with the FEMA flood map below.
Wetlands Issues Also Abound
Every part of the proposed development contains wetlands to some extent.
US Fish and Wildlife documented another eagle’s nest on the developer’s property. And the Balcom family, which lives near the western edge of the developer’s property, regularly photographs eagles from their balcony.
What’s in a Name
The name sounds as if the development would be lower density than the 50-story high-rises previously planned. But you never know. In the development business, names often have more evocative than literal significance. Look at the Houston Heights. Bridgeland (on the prairie). Mount Houston. You get the idea.
Whatever the development is, when and if the developer returns to the Planning Commission, we should not forget that:
When floodplain maps are redrawn using Atlas-14 data, that floodway will likely expand significantly.
A Less Risky, Less Costly Alternative
All of these factors will increase the risk and cost of any development.
The safest, sanest course for the developer – before putting more money at risk –would be to meet with community representatives about:
Purchasing this land
Putting a conservation easement on it
Letting it revert to nature and turning it into park land
Harris County Flood Control District has $175 million allocated in the flood bond for partnership projects with “Municipalities, Authorities, and Other Districts in Harris County.” See item Z100-00-00-MUNI.
That money could help purchase such property and turn it into green space forever. KSA, the Lake Houston Chamber, civic leaders and residents should get behind that idea. Judging by the response to Romerica’s last offering, it’s clear that residents would much rather see this area turned into parks than see the San Jacinto turn it into blight.
Dredging of the River Grove Park boat launch and lagoon have been set back at least two weeks. Originally, KSA estimated that the job could finish as early as the end of March. According to KSA President Dee Price, that was an estimate from the contractor, Kayden Industries, not a contract requirement.
Lower Lake Level Required Even Smaller Dredge
According to Price, Kayden ran into a problem when the City unexpectedly lowered the level of Lake Houston about two feet. “The reduction in the water level grounded the dredging barge that they were using,” said Price. “To keep moving forward, they removed the first dredge and brought in a smaller one.”
Contractor Will Finish Job With Smaller Dredge
“The water level is back up now,” said Price. “Kayden thinks they can finish the job using the smaller dredge, but it will take a little longer.”
With the corona virus restrictions, there is now very little activity at the park. Reminder: children should NOT use the playground equipment to help restrict the spread of the virus. Soccer leagues have also been affected. Only a handful of people were using the park this afternoon.
The sand pile is still blocking the boat launch. It and Kayden’s equipment will be removed from the park when dredging completes in a couple more weeks.
At that point, KSA intends to repair the asphalt damage from the heavy equipment. KSA will also replace the speed bumps with speed humps to accommodate boat trailers. All that could take till May.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/27/2020
941 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200327-RJR_0438.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-03-27 18:39:572020-03-27 18:40:07River Grove Dredging Completion Delayed at Least 2 Weeks
Since Hurricane Harvey, KSA has worked diligently to restore the damage to River Grove Park. It has been a massive job. Harvey filled in the lagoon in front of the boardwalk; left five feet of sand in the parking lot, disc golf course, and playing fields; and deposited a sand bar more than a quarter mile long and 12 feet high in front of the boat dock.
Army Corps Restored River Access
The Army Corps cut a channel through the sand bar that blocked the drainage ditch that empties the western third of Kingwood. That was a huge sigh of relief for a large part of Kingwood. But much work remained to restore the park itself. Among the last items on the agenda: restoring the lagoon and boat ramp access.
It’s hard to capture the scope of dredging operations from the ground – especially with access restricted for safety reasons. But last week, I did a flyover and captured these pics from a helicopter.
In the photo above, you can see the 50-foot strip where Kayden removed vegetation. That will be the limit of dredging. KSA plans to remove 4-5 feet of sand from this area. The area still covered with grasses will remain wetlands. It will provide cover, habitat and food for birds and other species. That should help make River Grove a destination for birders again.
A Bit of the Oil Field Comes to River Grove
Expected Finish By End of March
KSA expects the dredging project to finish by the end of March, weather permitting. However, the boat ramp may not open immediately. The heavy equipment has damaged the asphalt in the parking lot. Repairs and restriping may take a few weeks more.
Originally, KSA expected to remove 10,000 cubic yards of sediment. The contractor now predicts they will remove 11,000 to12,000 cubic yards to complete the scope of work.
Other Park Improvements
The good news: When all of this is done, River Grove Park should be back and better than ever. During repairs, KSA decided to:
Convert several of the soccer fields from “league fields” to “public fields.” Residents have long requested that change.
Change the speed bumps to milder speed humps in the traffic circle. Boaters have long requested that.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/9/2020
923 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200306-RJR_9605.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-03-09 15:54:072020-03-09 15:57:09New Aerial Photos of River Grove Park Show Extent of Dredging Project
During the first phase of River Grove dredging, the contractor, Kayden, removed vegetation from the area to be dredged adjacent to the boardwalk (see photo below).
They completed vegation removal last week. They also completed cleaning silt out from under the boardwalk without impacting its stability or support. This week, they’re back with a tiny dredge and a giant mobile dewatering plant.
The Little Dredge That Could
The dredge was selected because it could maneuver in the tight spaces adjacent to the River Grove Boardwalk. It’s 12 feet wide and 51 feet long. The first word that came to mind when I saw it was “cute.” The second thing that came to mind was the child’s story “The Little Engine that Could.” As it sat there chugging away at sand and silt, I thought I could hear the John Deer, 6-cylinder, 13.5 liter diesel engine chanting, “I think I can, I think I can.”
Dewatering Plant Processes Sand for Removal, Returns Water To River
The giant dewatering plant operates much like shakers used in oil field drilling work. Water and sediment are pumped up from the lagoon by the dredge. They enter one side of the dewatering plant. There, they are pumped through centrifuges, then across a series of screens that vibrate. Water falls through the screens into a tank below. Sand accumulates on the screens until they dump it down chutes. From there, a front end loader scoops up the dirt and piles it up until trucks haul it away.
Kayden then pumps the water back into the river.
Dredge Designed for Tight Spaces
River Grove dredging will not move nearly as fast as the dredging that Great Lakes and Callan were doing, but it seems to work well for the location. A major concern is overly aggressive dredging that could undermine the supports for the boardwalk and boat ramp. Another word that comes to mind is “precise.” Think about the difference between a van and an 18 wheeler. The major issue here is fitting in small spaces.
Despite the size of the equipment at River Grove, the operation itself is far more compact than previous dredging operations. This could form a model for the dredging of inlets around the lake, like the one at Walden. However, County Engineer John Blount emphasizes that no decisions have been made in that regard yet.
The Safety Moment
If you take your kids to River Grove to see this operation, make sure you stay behind the yellow tape for your own safety.
Also, until the operation is complete in another month or so, remember that traffic at River Grove will be two-way. Just be aware.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/4/2020 with photos and video from Josh Alberson
918 Days after Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200304-RJR_8795.jpg?fit=1200%2C800&ssl=18001200adminadmin2020-03-04 16:56:292020-03-05 09:27:23River Grove Dredging Operation Moves to Next Phase