Tag Archive for: Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

TCEQ Accepting Public Comment on Sand Mine Practices for 30 Days

Yesterday, the TCEQ held a virtual hearing on sand-mine best management practices (BMPs). After listening to stakeholders on all sides of the issue, TCEQ agreed to allow public comment for another 30 days before making any recommendations to TCEQ commissioners.

Breakdown of Five-Hour Meeting

Yesterday’s hearing started with a description of the TCEQ rule-making process and timetable. The meeting then compared two sets of BMPs – one submitted by the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association (TACA) and the other submitted by the Lake Houston Area Flood Prevention Initiative.

  • The good news: both sides agreed on most BMPs.
  • The bad news: Substantial disagreement remains on several crucial BMPs as well as the area(s) that the BMPs will apply to.

The TCEQ then allowed three stakeholders (Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining [TRAM], the Bayou Land Conservancy and ReduceFlooding.com) to make presentations.

After lunch, the meeting resumed for two hours of discussion about the BMPs.

At the end of the meeting, everyone agreed to extend the public comment period from 15 days to 30, given the importance of the effort and Thanksgiving.

No decisions were made at yesterday’s meeting. The objective was purely to give all interested stakeholders a chance to express their opinions.

Disagreement over Where BMPs Will Apply

TACA wanted the BMPs to apply only to the main stems of the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto. The Flood Prevention Initiative wanted them to apply to the tributaries of the East and West Forks also. In other words, the entire watershed upstream of Lake Houston.

The area of enforcement proposed by the Flood Prevention Initiative includes everything upstream of the Lake Houston Dam. However, TACA wants to exclude tributaries of the East and West forks.

Areas of Disagreement

Overall, the two sides disagreed on 12 of 41 BMPs. Of the twelve, the Flood Prevention Initiative and ReduceFlooding.com identified three as crucial.

  1. Minimum setbacks from rivers
  2. Performance bonds ensuring reclamation at the end of mining
  3. Whether compliance with BMPs should be voluntary or mandatory

For a summary of the rule making process and a complete breakdown of the differences in BMPs, see this special section of the TCEQ website set up for Sand Mining BMPs.

For more information on the three crucial BMPs mentioned above, see this presentation or read below.

ReduceFlooding.com Presentation

I started my presentation by pointing out that the San Jacinto provides:

  • A source of sand for a few dozen companies
  • Water for 2 million people

Modern life would be impossible without concrete. But surviving for even a few days without clean water would be even more impossible. We must strike a balance to protect both industry and people.

Since Harvey, I have rented helicopters almost every month and taken approximately 17,500 photos of sand mines.

I’ve never claimed that sand mining was the only source of sedimentation in the river. But it is a large contributor in my opinion.

After Harvey, huge blockages showed up in the San Jacinto, such as the one below east of River Grove Park. The Army Corps found the river was 90% blocked in this area. Before they dredged it, the park flooded six times in three months on minor rains.

Such blockages led me to study sand mining best practices from around the country ever since. I tried to identify what other states did that Texas did not do. I identified ten BMPs that could help reduce sedimentation during floods.

However, I had no success in getting TACA to adopt them. Nevertheless, Bill McCabe and Dave Feille of the Lake Houston Area Flood Prevention initiative took up the challenge. Thanks to them, we are where we are today.

We have reached substantial agreement, but the sides remain far apart on three crucial measures.

The three remaining areas of substantial disagreement

The remainder of the presentation focuses on these issues.

Need for Greater Setbacks

Texas has no minimum setbacks for mines from rivers.

Other states specify minimum setbacks of varying widths.
This images shows the Texas Concrete Mine in Plum Grove on the East Fork and how the floodway (cross-hatched area) covers most of the mine.

This mine’s dikes breached in four places during Harvey and again during Imelda. Residents downstream described a sudden wave of water coming down on them as if a dam had broken.

The West Fork has far more mines. Between I-45 and I-69, a 20-mile distance, we have twenty square miles of sand mines, virtually all of them wholly or partially in the floodway. That makes the average width of the river one mile. And that increases the potential for erosion 33X.

One of several breaches at the Triple PG mine that remained open for months in 2019.

Because mines are so close to floodways, their dikes breach frequently. The Texas Attorney General is currently suing the mine above for more than a million dollars on behalf of the TCEQ. That’s the mine’s dredge pit in the foreground and Caney Creek in the background. The mine actually sits at the confluence of two floodways, White Oak Creek and Caney Creek. TCEQ alleges that water from one creek swept through the mine and went out to the other.

Floodwaters sweeping through mines are not the only source of sediment downstream. A mine’s dikes can also constrict floods as you see in the images below. This image shows a mine just west of I-45 and the West Fork.

Details from the red circle in the bottom image are shown in the close-up image above it. This mine walled off half the floodway with a dike approximately 50 feet high.

In all but the largest floods, such high dikes concentrate floodwater on the opposite side of the river above. That, in turn, increased velocity of water, accelerated erosion, and cost the businessman on the opposite shore more than seven acres of his property in ten years. Because floodwater had half the space to spread out, he floods more frequently and higher.

Regardless of the mechanism of erosion, the increased rate of sedimentation due to sand mining, has contributed to the buildup of sediment dams like the West Fork mouth bar (photographed above two weeks after Harvey). Such dams behind the dam contributed to flooding thousands of homes and businesses. They also are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to remove.

Greater setbacks could have easily avoided much of this expense. Sand miners are passing their cleanup costs along to the public.

Greater setbacks would help reduce flooding. They could also help improve water quality.

See below: the day the West Fork turned white.

The TCEQ found that a dike at a mine upstream broke releasing an estimated 56 million gallons of whitish sludge into the West Fork.

The photo above shows the upstream limit of Lake Houston. The water elevation at the I-69 bridge normally matches the water elevation at the Lake Houston dam. So this IS our drinking water you’re looking at. Removing all this sludge before it reaches your tap is a large part of your water bill every month. Greater setbacks from the river could have prevented this catastrophe as well.

Performance Bonds for Reclamation

In Texas, miners need to file a reclamation plan before they start mining. But when they are done, nothing obligates them to execute the plan.

Many miners can and do walk away from mines. A performance bond filed before they start mining would ensure that money for cleanup when they were done. If they rehabilitated the property, they would get the money back. But if they did NOT, taxpayers would not have to foot the bill or leave dangerous eyesores in their midst.

At a minimum, miners should revegetate disturbed areas to reduce the potential for erosion and sedimentation. Shown above, the Texas Concrete Plum Grove Plant after the operator walked away from it more than a year ago. No attempt has yet been made at restoration, although TCEQ is pursuing them.
Shown above: (top l to r) Abandoned dredge, concrete crushing facility at abandoned mine, abandoned equipment. Bottom Left: abandoned pipe.

Need for Mandatory, not Voluntary Best Practices

TACA would like best practices to be voluntary. Can you imagine the state of the U.S. Treasury if the IRS considered paying taxes optional?

Shown above: an abandoned sand pit on North Houston Avenue in Humble. This pit has no fencing or berms around the perimeter like it should. Worse, the steep-sided slopes break off in slabs. Erosion now threaten adjacent businesses and roadways.
West Fork mine contaminated with cyanobacteria. Cyanotoxins, sometimes formed by the bacteria, are the most potent in nature according to the CDC. CDC also says there is no known cure. I caught this mine pumping bacteria-laden water into wetlands.
Mines that do not comply with regs put those that do comply at a competitive disadvantage.
Complying with safety regulations should not be optional.

The top photo above shows what happened when the Triple PG mine mined too close to a Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline. Headward erosion during Imelda exposed it. Kinder Morgan buried a new pipeline 75 feet down. Incredibly, now the mine is mining ON TOP of the pipeline AGAIN!

The lower image shows five pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids at a West Fork mine. Headward erosion exposed them, too, when LMI mined too closely. The giant pipelines sagged like clotheslines across a 100-foot gap.


The six images below show the confluence of the West Fork and Spring Creek near I-69. I took them from different angles during different months, but they all show the same thing: sediment coming from the West Fork where a heavy concentration of sand mines exists. If miners voluntarily complied with best management practices, these photos would have looked far different.

West Fork from different angles is the siltier in each case.

An attempt to legislate BMPs in the last legislature failed. But we have yet another chance. Review the TCEQ site and if you see an opportunity to improve sand-mining best practices, now is the time to comment.

If you comment, make sure you explain why you feel the way you do. Don’t just say “I like X or Y.” Give your reasons. Cite your experience. That will help the TCEQ formulate regulations that make a difference.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/11/2020

1170 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 419 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.

TCEQ Commissioners Vote to Start Rule-Making Process for Sand Mining Best Practices in San Jacinto Watershed

On August 12, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners voted unanimously to initiate a rule-making process that would establish best management practices for commercial sand mining in the San Jacinto River watershed.

Meer feet separate the Hanson Aggregate mine from the San Jacinto West Fork. The integrity of dikes and setbacks from the river have become a major point of contention between the public and miners since Harvey. Photo taken late June.

Joint TACA/Lake Houston Area Request

In June, 2020, both TACA and the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative presented petitions to have the TCEQ establish best practices. Though the two sides have not agreed on important provisions, such as setbacks from the river and reclamation, the start of the process is a positive step.

Seven Minutes of Deliberation

You can watch the discussion among the commissioners on YouTube. Items 29 and 30 on the agenda (the two petitions) start at approximately 17 minutes into the meeting. Discussion lasts about 7 minutes.

After the commission secretary announced the agenda items, Mr. Josh Leftwich of TACA spoke on behalf of the measure. Mr. Leftwich took over as president and CEO of TACA on June 15, from David Perkins. (Mr. Perkins joined Lehigh Hanson, an aggregate company, as the Vice President of Government Affairs.)

No one for the Lake Houston Area spoke on behalf of the proposal.

Rebecca Vialva, executive director of the TCEQ Water Quality Division explained that both sides of this debate submitted separate but similar petitions in June. They requested the agency to establish a rule making process with stakeholder involvement to ensure adequate environmental protection. Ms. Vialva explained that her Water Quality Division supported that.

Vic McWherter, from the Commission’s Office of Public Interest Counsel, also supported the idea.

No one asked questions.

Rule-Making Process Not Same as Adopting Specific Rules

Before taking a vote, Jon Niermann, Chairman of the Commission, explained that initiating a rule-making process was not the same as adopting specific rules. It does not commit to any specific rules or outcomes. It simply starts a public dialog.

All three commissioners, Jon Niermann, Emily Lindley, and Bobby Janecka, voted to start the process.

Model for Rest of State?

Both Mr. Janecka and Mr. Niermann expressed wishes that Best Management Practices for the San Jacinto Watershed could become a model for the rest of the state.

Lake Houston Leaders Urge Public to Engage

Dave Feille and Bill McCabe, leaders of the Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative, sent out an email this morning. In it, they called the TCEQ decision “a major step forward.” However, they were quick to add, “Not surprisingly, the Petitions differed in some key areas and these will be addressed and consolidated in the rule-making stage of the process.”

“We would encourage all stakeholders to become involved in the rule-making process by following the progress of our Petition at: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/rules/participate.html,” said Feille and McCabe.

Efforts to establish best practices for sand mining died in committee in the state legislature last year. Let’s hope this has a better outcome.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/16/2020

1083 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.

Reminder: Last SJRA Board Meeting Before Vote on Whether to Continue Lowering Lake Conroe Seasonally

The Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative sent out this reminder via email. It contains information about the last SJRA Board meeting before they vote on whether to continue Lowering Lake Conroe seasonally. I’m posting it here, too, in case you aren’t on their mailing list and want to learn how you can make your voice heard.

Urge the Board to Continue Lowering Lake Conroe

Until other flood mitigation measures can be put in place, lowering Lake Conroe seasonally and temporarily is the only buffer we have against flooding. It creates extra storage in the lake that can reduce the size, duration, and rate of releases from Lake Conroe during a flood. Lake Houston residents and businesses need this. Lake Conroe residents and businesses want to end the policy.

How You Can Help

URGENT….your attendance is needed at the final SJRA meeting on Feb 20th at 6 pm
It is absolutely imperative that we have a large contingency from Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Huffman, etc. at the San Jacinto River Authority meeting this Thursday, February 20th @ 6:00pm. We need to show the SJRA board that we support the continued lake lowering policy for 2020.  

The meeting will be held at 
Thursday, Feburary 20, 2020 at 6pm
Lone Star Convention and Expo Center, 9055 Airport Road, Conroe, Texas 77303

It is important to show up as early as possible, especially if you wish to speak. (The January meeting was already full by 5 pm.) Note: You can simply write a comment and checkmark that you are not going to speak. If would like to share a public comment, the SJRA public comment form is available at https://www.sjra.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Comment-Registration-Form_01062020.pdf

If you do plan to address the SJRA board, we are encouraging people to speak in a cordial and friendly manner, even if the Lake Conroe residents pursue their verbal assaults.
 The temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe is necessary to protect all downstream property, not just the homes of those living around Lake Houston.

The Board is scheduled to make a decision on the Lake lowering at this meeting or immediately thereafter, making our presence critical. Buses are being arranged by the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber also has more #LivesAboveLevels tee shirts.

Please see the information below copied from the latest email from the Chamber for more information about how to register for transportation and the tee shirts. You can also learn more about the #LivesAboveLevels campaign at the Chamber’s website  http://www.lakehouston.org/recoverlakehouston/

Again if at all possible, please plan to attend. Thank for being involved and please help spread the word.


Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

Below is a copy the information from the latest email from Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Dress for Success.
Get a T-Shirt at the Chamber for the last SJRA Board meeting if you plan to attend.

 Lives Over Levels T-shirts Available at the Chamber 

Lives Over Levels t-shirts are currently available at the Chamber! Pick up your t-shirt if you plan to attend the SJRA Board Special Meeting on February 20.

The San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors will hold a special meeting on February 20 to hear public comment on the temporary flood mitigation strategy of lowering Lake Conroe on a seasonal basis. 

We currently carry size S, M, L, XL, 2XL and 3XL.

 LHA Chamber Address:
110 W. Main St.
Humble, TX 77338
Registration is Open to Reserve Seats for Coach Buses, February 20 

Three Coach buses with limited capacity have been generously donated by an anonymous donor for those who are unable to provide their own transportation to and from the meeting. 

All buses will depart and return to Lone Star College-Kingwood. 

Cancellations: We will be forced to cancel Bus B if we are unable to completely fill Bus A.
Each bus holds 52 passengers. We will notify Bus B passengers if Bus B is transferred to Bus A.
(Bus A and B currently leave at the same time.)

You Must Register to Reserve Your Spot!

Bus A Boarding Time: 3:00 PM –  Bus A Departure Time: 3:30 PM

Bus B Boarding Time: 3:00 PM –  Bus B Departure Time: 3:30 PM

Bus C Boarding Time: 4:00 PM –   Bus C Departure Time: 4:30 PM

For more background information, visit the Recover Lake Houston Page of the Lake Houston Chamber Site or the Lake Lowering Page on this site.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/18/2020 based on info from the Lake Houston Flood Prevention Initiative and the Lake Houston Chamber

903 Days since Hurricane Harvey

More People, Groups Line Up For, Against Lowering of Lake Conroe

Everyone from County Commissioners to people on the street are picking up sides.

MoCo Commissioners Oppose Lowering in Split Vote

In a 3-2 vote this morning, Montgomery County Commissioners approved a resolution to OPPOSE the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe. Judge Keough, Commissioner Meador and Commissioner Noack voted FOR the resolution. Commissioners Riley and Metts voted against.

Despite the news from Montgomery County, other local leaders released letters SUPPORTING the continuation of the policy.

Houston At-Large Council Member Sallie Alcorn Supports Lowering

Sallie Alcorn, Houston City Council Member At-Large, Position 5, sent the SJRA a letter supporting the continuation of the lake lowering policy. Ms. Alcorn, a new member of City Council, used to work with Chief Recovery Officer Stephen Costello and saw first hand how the lake lowering strategy helped prevent flooding in May of last year. See the full text of her letter below.

Sallie Alcorn Letter supporting lake lowering.

Woodlands Leader Robert Leilich Supports Lowering

Robert Leilich, president of Municipal Utility District #1 in the Woodlands, wrote a poignant letter to the SJRA board expressing his own personal experience and opinions.

January 14, 2020

Dear SJRA Board Members,

I witnessed first-hand the devastation wreaked by the necessity to open Lake Conroe’s Tainter Gates during Hurricane Harvey. I worked in a home of a disabled veteran in River Plantation that had recently recovered from the Memorial Day Flood. Water in this home went from a few inches up to ten feet in a matter of a few hours after the gates were opened. I spent many hours pulling down wallboard from the ceiling and walls after it ruined everything. Over 400 homes were flooded in River Plantation, alone, most of which would not have flooded if it were possible to not open the gates. 

Taking steps to utilize the capability of Lake Conroe to contain more floodwaters beyond its current limited capabilities is a positive step to mitigate or prevent future flooding by waters flowing from Lake Conroe. This common-sense flood prevention capability must take precedence over minor inconveniences to a few homeowners and businesses, who greatly exaggerate claims of harm and loss. After all, the primary purpose to building the lake in the first place was never to serve those interests. SJRA has no obligation to give priority to these interests over the welfare of residents downstream of the dam.

In 1917, an amendment to the Texas constitution, referred to as the “Conservation Amendment,” authorized the Legislature “to create governmental entities with the authority to develop large-scale, regional projects, such as dams, reservoirs, and delivery systems, for the purpose of conserving and developing the state’s water resources, including the control, storing, preservation, and distribution of its storm and flood waters, the water of its rivers and streams, for irrigation, power, and all other useful purposes…” (from SJRA ‘s 75th Anniversary brochure, page 5).

In 1937, the San Jacinto River Conservation and Reclamation District (now SJRA) was formed “to develop, conserve, and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin.” Enabling legislation also gave the Authority rights “to impound flood waters.” It is entirely appropriate and prudent that the SJRA exercise this authority.

The present policy to temporarily drop lake levels one-foot in the spring and two-feet in August and September is a fair compromise between flood prevention and recreation.

Since Governor Abbott directed the SJRA on March 15, 2018, to implement immediate and long-term solutions to protect lives and property of Texans living in the watershed, the SJRA Board has taken positive action. It is my hope that the Board will continue to follow the Governor’s directives when the board once again considers the temporary and seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe, continuing the present policy until (and if) more permanent flood control measures are implemented.

The ability of Lake Conroe to mitigate potential flooding was demonstrated during the May 10, 2019, rain event. (SJRA data from the May 2019 floods show that had no releases occurred prior to the event, Lake Conroe would have been forced to release at a higher CFS during the event.) Lowering Lake Conroe protected numerous lives, homes and businesses.

Access to lake recreation should never be at the expense of endangering lives downstream, especially considering the Charter of the SJRA states that its express purpose was for responsible water management. Further, if the Board chooses to not continue lowering Lake Conroe, it would be out of compliance with Governor Abbott’s mandate. 

The San Jacinto River Authority has a legal and moral responsibility to many more people than just those who live and work around Lake Conroe. It is my hope and expectation that the SJRA Board will continue the present policy that is proving to protect lives and property against those who have a sense of entitlement that supersedes public interests.

I respectfully request that you vote in favor of the temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe on February 20, 2020.

Very truly yours,
Robert H. Leilich
President, MUD #1

Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative Supports Lowering

The Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative supports the Lake Houston Chamber to mobilize people throughout the region. The Grassroots organization sent the following note to its members on Monday afternoon.

Dear ______________:

On Tuesday, Jan 7th, the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce sent an email highlighting the various ways you can support the SJRA’s temporary seasonal Lake Lowering program for 2020.

We encourage everyone to be involved in any way you can. So, if you are not able to attend the SJRA Public Board meeting on Tuesday January 21st meeting at 6:00 pm at the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center, we encourage you to send an email to the SJRA board members sharing your support of this temporary lake lowering program. The Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce has created a very easy way to send an email via the RecoverLakeHouston.com website. It only takes a few seconds to complete their form. We highly recommend using this method to send an email.

In the Lake Houston Long Term Recovery Task Force Meeting this morning, the Lake Houston Area Chamber reported as of this morning, 689 emails had been sent via RecoverLakeHouston.com. While that is a good start, we are confident that with your help we can exceed 2000 emails to show SJRA that the Lake Houston area appreciates their support in providing temporary solutions to reduce the flood risk. So please share in your social media feeds and on Nextdoor to help spread the word. If it is easier to share directly from the Lake Houston Area Chambers Facebook post, the link is https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158743067093357&substory_index=0&id=139473188356

It is important for EVERYONE to be involved as the Lake Conroe Association which is requesting SJRA to “Stop The Drop” is growing. They have obtained support from State Representative Will Metcalf and State Senator Robert Nichols. Bob Rehak with ReduceFlooding.com shared a recent blog post that includes the letters.

Again thank for being involved and please help spread the word.


Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

Lake Houston Chamber Supports Lowering

The Lake Houston Chamber sent this letter to members.

January 7, 2020

I am calling on you, once again, to help us protect the Lake Houston Area from future flooding. We are launching a “Lives Over Levels” email campaign to the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board of Directors requesting their approval of temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe in 2020. The SJRA Board meets on January 21 to hear comments and again on February 20 to call the vote.

As you may recall, our area fought hard to initiate a seasonal lake lowering program during the wettest months of our year and in the height of hurricane season. The lake lowering program calls for Lake Conroe to be lowered 1 ft. below Lake Conroe’s normal pool elevation during the months of April and May and by 2 ft. below normal pool elevation in the months of August and September. The seasonal lowering program must be approved by the SJRA Board each February.

An organized group of homeowners on Lake Conroe has recently launched a campaign to the SJRA Board and a petition to Governor Abbott to stop the temporary and seasonal lowering program. They contend the temporary, seasonal lake lowering program impedes lakefront residents’ ability to get their boats from their slips during months with lower lake levels. They also claim that the lake lowering program has no scientific basis of flood protection and is thus merely offers a “placebo effect” for Lake Houstonians.

However, as residents and business professionals in Lake Houston, we know the benefits the seasonal and temporary lowering of Lake Conroe has had on our area and we also have data which proves seasonal lowering mitigated flooding.

SEND an email to the SJRA Board Members through our RecoverLakeHouston.com site.

SHARE the RecoverLakeHouston.com site with your employees, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and customers so they can also participate in the campaign. Forward this email and engage their participation.

SPREAD the campaign on social media using #LivesOverLevels #SJRA #RecoverLakeHouston. To make it easy, simply share posts from our Lake Houston Area Chamber social media pages.
SJRA On Twitter: @SJRA_1937
SJRA On Facebook: @SanJacintoRiverAuthority
SJRA on Instagram: @sanjacintoriverauthoritysjra

SHOW UP to the SJRA Board Meetings at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 21 and Tuesday, February 20 at the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center located at 9055 Airport Road, Conroe, Texas 77303. The opposition group in Lake Conroe will have several hundred people attend.

The future of the Lake Houston Area depends largely on our community rallying together, fighting for action to prevent flooding.

Join me in support of this campaign,

Jenna Armstrong, IOM
President & CEO
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/14/2020

868 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Report on September Meeting of Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

Matt Zeve, Bill Fowler and I each made presentations at the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention initiative this evening.

Zeve Addresses Flood Bond and Flood Map Updates

Zeve, Director of Operations for Harris County Flood Control District spoke about the recently approved $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Bond and updates to flood maps. He indicated that timetables for projects should be completed within the next several weeks. He also indicated that the county has already approved drainage work in Huffman and fielded numerous questions from the audience about Taylor Gully, Ben’s Branch, upstream detention and more. Zeve expects flood maps to be updated in 2021 and stated that mitigation efforts could affect those, but that homeowners will have a chance to appeal them.

Rehak Presents Updates on Dredging, The Mouth Bar and Sand Mining

Bob Rehak updated residents on .Dredging, The Mouth Bar and Sand Mining. Dredging, he says, officially started today though not in the way that some expected. The first of two dredges launched today, a 270-ton diesel powered dredge. The launch had been delayed by a key part that had to be remanufactured and reshipped, then inclement weather. The tall construction cranes had to shut down every time lightning was heard in the area because they act like lightning rods. When the dredge finally started making it’s way downriver today, a mechanical dredge had to clear the way. The river was 18 inches deep in places but the dredge draws 3.5 feet of water. That’s how bad the sedimentation was; we needed a dredge for the dredge.

Dredging will take place to the left of the white line, but not to the right. Chimichurri’s in Kings Harbor is the dividing line. Those thousands of numbers on the image represent survey points by the Army Corps Average depth around the mouth bar is 1-3 feet. Max depth is 5 feet in some cross sections. Water will actually have to flow uphill about 40 feet to get past the mouth bar.

Dredging will start near Chimichurri’s just east of West Lake Houston Parkway. The Corps and Great Lakes will then work their way back toward River Grove Park. They expect to finish dredging by April 1, next year. Demobilization could take until early May.

Rehak also addressed the issue of the mouth bar and updated residents on political efforts by City, County, State and Federal officials to jumpstart the next phase of dredging before this one ends so that $18 million in mobilization and demobilization fees do not have to be duplicated for a second job. No plans have gelled yet, but Houston City Council Member Dave Martin may have an announcement to make at his Town Hall Meeting on October 9.

The final part of Rehak’s presentation addressed efforts to reduce sedimentation at its source to reduce the cost of dredging over the long run. Potential solutions include upstream detention, sand traps, and legislation or regulation that changes the way sand mines operate. Rehak specifically mentioned that moving sand mines out of the floodway would solve a host of problems.

Grassroots Co-Chair Clarifies Lake-Lowering Policies, Floodgate Possibilities, and Need for Flood Insurance

Bill Fowler, co-chair of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative, opened the meeting by updating the community on policies to coordinate the lowering of Lake Conroe and Lake Houston to provide residents with extra protection from flooding when severe weather is expected. Fowler also gave an update on additional flood gates for Lake Houston. Then he discussed flood insurance and the related issue of redrawing flood plain maps which Harvey made obsolete. Copies of Fowler’s presentations can be found here.

Zeve did not work from a presentation. His remarks were supported by material from the Harris County Flood Control District website. He did, however, specifically urge residents to review the ever expanding Kingwood section of the site.

Diverse Audience of Approximately 200

Approximately 200 residents attended the meeting. Surprisingly, about a third of those did not flood during Harvey. The large turnout by non-flooded residents may have had to do with the flood insurance theme. Fowler emphasized that everyone needs flood insurance;

45 percent of the people who flooded in Harvey were outside of the 500-year flood plain and 64% of those did not have flood insurance.

Thanks to Volunteers

Many thanks to Dianne Lansden, also a co-chair for the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative for coordinating the meeting; Fran Barrack for refreshments and Bill McCabe for sign ins.

Posted by Bob Rehak on September 18, 2018

385 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Reminder: Monday Night Meeting of Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

The next meeting of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention initiative will be Monday night, 6:30pm, at the Kingwood Community Center.

Matt Zeve, Deputy Executive Director for the Harris County Flood Control District, will discuss Lake Houston area projects approved in the recent County Flood Bond. Zeve will also address planned updates to Flood Plain Maps. The new maps could lead to increases in flood insurance rates and affect your home’s market value.

Meeting Specifics

  • Date: September 17, 2018
  • Time: 6:30 – 8:30
  • Place: Kingwood Community Center
  • Address: 4102 Rustic Woods, Kingwood

Matt Zeve. Director of Operations for Harris County Flood Control District

About Matt Zeve

Zeve is the Deputy Executive Director for the Harris County Flood Control District. He will be one of the people primarily responsible for planning and implementing the projects covered by the recently approved $2.5 billion Flood Bond program..

His work will affect 4.5 million people in Harris County, including the City of Houston.  The District has jurisdiction over the primary stormwater facilities in the county, which consist of about 1,500 channels, totaling 2,500 miles in length, as well as more than 60 regional stormwater detention basins and a 2.5-square mile wetlands mitigation bank.

After graduating from Texas A&M University with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering, Zeve successfully practiced engineering as a consultant in the private sector before joining the Harris County Flood Control District in November, 2015. He has spent his entire professional career working on drainage projects primarily in the Houston Metropolitan area.

Updates on Other Flood Issues

Additionally, Grass Roots leaders will update the community on other issues affecting the potential for flooding in the Lake Houston Area, such as additional flood gates for Lake Houston, dredging, sand mines, lowering of Lakes Conroe and Houston, and more.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please email them ahead of time so the group can prepare to address them. Send suggestions to: Bill Fowler, co-chair of the Grass Roots Initiative at txwil43@yahoo.com.

Spread the Word

Please forward this page t0 everyone you know in our area.  Flood prevention impacts the peace of mind and economic well-being of everyone.


Posted September 16, 2018 by Bob Rehak

383 Days since Hurricane Harvey



Congressional District 2 Candidates Discuss Flooding

Where the West Fork of the San Jacinto meets Lake Houston, a giant sand bar blocks the river. Areas beyond these dunes experienced far less flood damage from Harvey than the areas behind them.

The Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative has met with all three candidates for Texas Congressional District 2  to discuss our flood prevention concerns and objectives. Congressional District 2 is the seat being vacated by Ted Poe who is retiring.

The Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative is committed to remaining neutral in all political matters and does not make political endorsements. That said, it is our duty to advocate our Group’s agenda to all current and potential office holders who can play a role in reducing future flooding.

Contenders include Dan Crenshaw and Kevin Roberts (in the May 22 runoff for the Republican nomination), and Todd Litton (Democratic Nominee in the November 6 General Election).

We provided each with a background briefing on flooding issues in this area and a list of our objectives. We also discussed ways that we hope our future Congressional Representative can help in the fight against future flooding.

We encourage you to visit the websites of all three candidates for Congressional District 2 and examine their positions (linked below) relating to flooding. Should you have any questions, we encourage you to  contact the candidates directly. In alphabetical order, by last name, we list their web sites and email addresses below.

Dan Crenshaw:  https://crenshawforcongress.com/flood-policy/
email:  dan@crenshawforcongress.com

Todd Litton:    https://toddlitton.com/infrastructure-and-flooding/
email:  todd@toddlitton.com

Kevin Roberts:  http://www.kevinrobertsforcongress.com/issue/recovering-from-hurricane-harvey/
email:   kevin@kevinrobertsforcongress.com

By Bill Fowler, Co-Chair, Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative

Posted April 24, 2018, Day 238 Since Hurricane Harvey

Update on Multiple Flood Mitigation Projects Affecting Lake Houston Area

Giant sandbar virtually blocks the west fork of the San Jacinto River just downstream from River Grove Park.

(Kingwood, Texas, April 17, 2017) At a meeting of the Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative tonight, Kaaren Cambio and Dave Martin updated more than 150 people about the status of numerous post-Hurricane Harvey flood mitigation projects. Bill Fowler, co-chair of the Grass Roots Initiative, led off the event by discussing tax rebates and re-assessments for homeowners who flooded and who nearly flooded.

San Jacinto River Authority Flood Mitigation Projects

Cambio, one of Kingwood’s two new members on the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) board,  spoke about projects being spearheaded by the SJRA and its partners. They included the SJRA’s response to new flood mitigation orders issued by Governor Abbott, a watershed-wide flood study, potentially lowering the level of Lake Conroe, tougher regulations on upstream sand miners, buyouts, creation of additional reservoirs, and more.

City of Houston Flood Mitigation Projects

Martin, Houston District E City Council Member, spoke about additional projects being spearheaded by the City. They included a sedimentation survey of the Lake Houston and its tributaries, the addition of tainter gates to the Lake Houston Dam, dredging and more.

Martin also spoke at length about the City’s recent decision to lower the level of Lake Houston in anticipation of a storm at the end of March. The storm dumped an average of 5 inches of rain across the San Jacinto watershed. In a show of hands, virtually all attendees agreed that the  decision to lower Lake Houston prevented widespread flooding and that the policy should be continued.

For details, view Cambio’s and Martin’s presentations via the hyperlinks above or on the Reports page.

Give Texas GLO Feedback on Its Flood Mitigation Action Plan

Cambio urged area residents to contact the Texas General Land Office prior to April 26 re: the  state’s action plan. The state is seeking feedback on its action plan and how it will spend more than $5 billion.  The nature and volume of feedback could affect the amount of funding that Lake Houston area projects receive from the state.

Posted April 17,2018, 231 days after Hurricane Harvey