Tag Archive for: Lake Houston Area

City’s Harvey Recovery Map Shows Lake Houston Area Has Received Little Assistance

Five years after Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston’s Harvey Recovery Map shows that in the Lake Houston Area less than 100 families have received some form of financial assistance. That’s out of 16,000 homes and 3,300 businesses that flooded in the Lake Houston Area during Harvey.

Dots represent families receiving homebuyer assistance in Kingwood and Huffman. Clicking different layers of the map reveals statistics for different programs.

Breakdown by Program

To be more precise, the map shows:

  • 9 families in Kingwood and 1 in Huffman received homebuyer assistance
  • 78 families in Kingwood and 5 in Huffman received homeowner assistance for repairs or reconstruction
  • The City has yet to report any statistics for its Economic Recovery Program for Small Businesses

A second “disaster impact” map shows that in four Kingwood Census tracts, Harvey damaged more than 70% of the homes. The percent damaged exceeded 90% in two of those.

The Houston Housing and Community Development Department’s (HCDD) Hurricane Harvey Recovery Program still has hundreds of millions of dollars left to distribute. But with the exception of the City’s Multifamily Program, most other programs continue to stutter and stumble.

Citywide Statistics Not Much Better

Of the 96,410 homes flooded in Houston during Harvey, the City has submitted 1,426 single-family files to the GLO and received approval for 1,244 (789 for repair or reimbursement, and 455 for home buying assistance). The number approved equals 1.3% of homes damaged or destroyed.

The City announced a $30 million economic development program for small businesses one year ago. But no progress reports appear on the City’s compliance website. However, the City is still accepting applications until December 31st of this year. The amount of money in the program could help up to 200 small businesses citywide. In the Lake Houston Area alone, Harvey damaged 16 times more than that. The Houston Business Journal says Houston has more than 100,000 small businesses.

Multifamily Only Bright Spot

Multifamily housing assistance is the one bright spot for HHCD. Out of the $450 million allocated to the program, the City has already spent or committed $355 million as of August 8, 2022. Seven projects have completed construction. Sixteen are under construction. Two are pending closing. And six are being underwritten.

Multifamily stats as of 8/8/22

Why the success for this one program? Corporations build multifamily complexes. Most of them can afford to hire people who pursue funding opportunities like this full time. They aren’t trying to get bids, track receipts and hold down regular jobs while repairing their homes from a disaster in their spare time.

Most of the feedback I have received is that flood victims without flood insurance who were living in travel trailers or with friends after Harvey took one of two paths. They paid for repairs out of pocket as they could afford them, or sold their homes “as is.”

Disaster relief money came too late. It had too many strings attached. And the application process was too cumbersome. Finally, the Housing and Community Development Department was too disorganized. So, I suspect the numbers will change little at this point.

Plus, the Homebuyer Assistance program has exhausted its funding and is closed. A red note at the top of the homepage of Recovery.HustonTX.gov says, “Due to … a pending decision on whether the City must return money that should go toward these critical programs and resources, we are no longer processing applications.” If more funding becomes available, those who previously applied will not be given preference.

A second red note says, “At this time, the City of Houston will continue assisting homeowners whose repairs and reconstructions were approved by the GLO prior to October 6, 2020. All other repair and reconstruction applications, including those approved after October 6, 2020, will be transferred to the GLO to complete the process.”

A final note says, “We appreciate your patience.”

Anything to Help Citizens

The good news: “The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department is excited to announce beginning August 21st, we will be hosting open community office hours!” Every Wednesday, 1-4PM. “Walk-ins welcome, no appointment required!” If you still wish to apply.

Graphic on City’s Recovery Transparency Page.

Whoop-de-doo! Three hours a week! Five years after Harvey! Buried on a page that no one except reporters would take the time to find (at the bottom of the Transparency Page under the About Page). That’s really going above and beyond the call of duty to help citizens.

One can only wonder whether four hours a week – or putting the open-house notice on the home page – would help Houston recover faster.

Only one thing is certain: flood insurance beats the hope of disaster relief assistance.

To review the City’s July 2022 pipeline report that shows progress to date in several programs by stages, click here.

To review the compliance graphics for the City’s programs, click here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/14/22

1811 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.

New Legislation that Could Affect Lake Houston Area Flood Control

New legislation has been introduced in the 87th Texas Legislature that could affect the future of Lake Houston Area flood control. Here is a list that shows the current status of key bills. It includes a high-level summary, plus links to the text of the bills, and their authors. If you wish to testify on a bill, contact the author or the committee hearing it. Below is a brief summary of the most important (in my opinion) bills.

HB 2525: Perpetual Dredging for Lake Houston Area

Dan Huberty’s bill would create a dredging and maintenance district for the Lake Houston Area. It would dredge perpetually to reduce flood risk and help maintain the capacity of Lake Houston. The Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing on 4/13/2021.

HB 4478: Sand Mine Reclamation

Dan Huberty’s bill requires restoration plans for sand mining operations in the San Jacinto watershed. It lays out the requirements for such plans and also requires filing a performance bond to cover the cost of reclamation when mining is complete. If the mine abandons the property without restoring it, the bond would be enough to cover the cost of the work. It’s currently in the Natural Resources Committee. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

HB 767: Best Practices for Sand Mines

HB 767, another Huberty bill, would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop and publish best management practices for sand mining consistent with all applicable environmental laws and regulations. The bill has been referred to Environmental Regulation, but a hearing is not yet scheduled.

HB 4341: Transfer of Regulatory Responsibility for Sand Mines

Kyle Biedermann introduced a bill to transfer regulatory responsibility for sand mines from the TCEQ to the Railroad Commission of Texas. The Environmental Affairs Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing.

HB 2422: Regulation of Sand Mine Locations

HB 2422 by Erin Zwiener would allow county commissioners with populations greater than 500,000 to regulate the location of sand mines in certain circumstances based on proximity to residences, schools, places of worship, hospitals, and land platted for residential development.

HB 1912: Air and Water Quality Permit Requirements for Concrete Plants

Terry Wilson’s HB 1912 would raise the bar for Concrete Plants attempting to get air and water quality permits. It would require them to establish monitoring equipment. It would also affect blasting, lighting, noise generation from trucks, and restoration among other things. It’s in Environmental Regulations, but no hearing has yet been scheduled.

HB 3116: Nominations for SJRA Board

Will Metcalf’s HB 3116 would allow Montgomery County commissioners to nominate board members for the SJRA which the Governor could then accept or reject. It also sets the term for directors at 6 years and changes the number of board members from 7 to 6, contrary to the state constitution. It’s in the Natural Resources committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

CSHB 4575: Election of SJRA Board

Another Metcalf bill, HB 4575 would allo election of SJRA officers. Sounds democratic, until you realize that only those within the District would vote and Harris County is defined elsewhere as outside the district. We have all seen, as with the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, how private entities can easily take over a board in low interest, low turnout elections and then act in a way contrary to public interest (as in voting to virtually double groundwater pumping and ignore subsidence).

CSHB 3801: Handling of Unreasonable Desired Future Conditions for Groundwater

CSHB 3801 is a committee substitute bill. It defines how the Texas Water Development Board must handle petitions protesting “unreasonable” desired future conditions (DFCs) in groundwater management plans. The language in this bill is opaque. Even the analysis is.

SB 314: Notification of Flood History to Renters

SB 314 by Joan Huffman mandates that people renting properties would receive the same notification as people buying properties. The bill affects properties in the floodway, 100-year floodplain, 500-year floodplain, and any property that has flooded within the previous 5 years. If the tenant is not given proper notice, tenant may recover damages, one month’s rent, and attorney fees. Referred to Business & Commerce committee but no hearings set yet.

HB 531: Disclosure of Flood History and Floodplain Status to Renters

HB 531 by Armando Walle is similar to SB 314, but has already passed the House. It does not include the 500-year floodplain, but does include flooding from streets and ditches. This is the bill to watch. It has considerable traction and six co-authors.

HB 1059: Disclosure of Floodplain Status for Properties under 15 Acres

HB 1059 by Phil Stephenson requires sellers to disclose whether any part of a property smaller than 15-acres is in a flood plain. Bill was reported favorably as substituted but substitute has not yet been posted. SB 461 by Lois Kolkhorst is an identical companion bill in the senate.

HB 1949: Requires State Agencies to Reflect Climate Changes in Strategic Plans

Jasmine Crockett’s HB1949 would require certain state agencies such as TCEQ and TWDB to reflect weather and climate changes in their strategic plans. SB306 is the companion bill in the Senate. The State Affairs committee has not yet set a date for public hearings. Other representatives filed similar or identical bills, too: Michelle Beckley (HB 1956), Eckhardt (SB 306), Thierry (HB 2017), Reynolds (HB 3246), and Fierro (HB 4178).

HB 1681: Prohibiting Construction of Assisted Living Facilities in a 500-year Floodplain

Sam Harless’ HB 1681 prohibits construction of assisted living facilities in a 500-year floodplain. Human Services will hear public testimony on 4/13.

SB 865: Study of Statewide Disaster Alert System

Brandon Creighton’s SB 865 calls for a study on the efficacy of existing mass notification deployments by local governmental entities throughout this state and the feasibility of establishing a statewide disaster alert system. It would also study how to overcome barriers such as power outages in disasters. The Business and Commerce committee approved it unanimously, but the Senate has not yet voted on the bill. HB 655 is the companion bill.

SB 859: Continuing Virtual Meetings for Water Planning Groups

SB 859 by Charles Perry would allow Regional Flood Planning Groups to continue the practice of holding meetings virtually after the Covid crisis passes. The Businesss and Commerce committee approved it unanimously and it is headed for a vote on the uncontested calendar. Volunteers staff regional flood planning groups and the regions can span several counties. This places an undue travel burden on volunteers who already have a heavy workload. HB 2103 is a companion bill.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/11/2021

1321 Days after 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.

Preserve What Makes Lake Houston Area Unique

During my life, I’ve explored 49 states. But the state I choose to call home is Texas, and there’s no place I’d rather live in Texas than the Lake Houston Area. That’s in large part due to our proximity to nature and our fierce commitment to preservation.

This country has a lot to love. But if you love being close to nature, jobs, the arts, education, transportation, and medical care, no place I’ve found offers a better balance than the Lake Houston Area.

Our Unique Selling Proposition

You can find everything in that list above in every major metropolitan area in the country…with one exception – nature.

Sure, when you’re in other cities, you can get in your car and drive several hours to enjoy nature. Here, it’s outside your back door and down the block. Along hundreds of miles of greenbelts that wind through your neighborhood and along waterways. In the country’s largest urban nature park – the 5,000-acre Lake Houston Wilderness Park. And in the national forests and wildlife refuges that surround us.

Looking north toward Lake Houston Wilderness Park. It’s six times larger than New York’s Central Park.
Looking south along the East Fork toward Lake Houston in background over Kingwood’s East End Park, home to more than 140 species of birds, many of them threatened or endangered.

The Value of Nature

Nature is more than a place to explore. It’s a natural sedative. It’s restful. It quiets the soul and the mind. It sustains sanity. It’s an evolutionary anchor in a fast-changing society. The womb of the world. A protective refuge from conference reports, tax forms, sales quotas, deadlines, and performance reviews. It’s a place to just breathe, bask, and be.

Property Rights and Profit

To developers and sand miners who shout “property rights” in their quest for profits, I would say, “Go ahead, develop your land as you wish. Just realize what you’re selling. Don’t destroy the uniqueness that makes your property worth more than it otherwise would be if you cut down the forest, filled in the wetlands, and turned natural streams into concrete ditches.

“Hey, Dear. Let’s take the kids for a walk along the ditch. I hear the sand mine’s water turned neon green! It’ll be fun. What do you say? We can bring the dog. He’ll find plenty of dead frogs to eat.”

Yeah, people will commute an extra hour, and pay a premium to live ten feet from noisy neighbors and that!

Colony Ridge development east of Plum Grove, TX. Not long ago, this was all forests and wetlands. It’s less than three miles from Lake Houston Wilderness Park.
Water at Hallett Mine on West Fork. Photographed 12/7/2020.
Looking west up the West Fork of San Jacinto toward 20 square miles of sand mines. Photo taken in September. Water flows toward camera and then left out of frame into Lake Houston,

Plea for Preservation

So, developers and miners, please think carefully before exercising your property rights. Once the forest is gone, it’s gone forever. You will alter the watershed inalterably. Preserve the wetlands that keep surrounding areas from flooding. Preserve the “brand” you’re selling. You’re not just selling sticks and bricks. You’re selling safety.

Preserving nature preserves profit potential for generations to come.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/23/2020

1212 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.

Worth Fighting For

Almost 40 years ago, when I moved to Houston, I fell in love with the extraordinary beauty of this City. And nowhere in Houston is more beautiful than the Lake Houston Area. The pictures below show why it’s worth fighting for.

Nature in the Lake Houston Area isn’t a place you go to visit. You don’t have to drive or fly to it. It’s all around you. Step out your back door and you’re already there. You’re breathing it. You’re being it.

Harvey Was an Eye Opener

Right up until Hurricane Harvey, I felt, on balance, this was the most perfect place in America to raise my family. Houston offers career opportunities found in few other cities. And the Lake Houston Area, in particular, offers the things my family and I value.

Harvey didn’t change my mind about those things. But it did open my eyes to some things I should have paid closer attention to. All around us, that perfect environment was quietly and steadily being eroded for decades.

It’s not gone. But it is threatened. Every day. More than a thousand other posts on this web site amply chronicle those threats. I won’t dwell on them here. Nor will I dwell on how “the greatest flood ever” kept being replaced by the new “greatest flood ever.”

What We Need to Fight For

I would like, instead, to share several images that show it’s not too late to preserve what we have. But to do that, we have to fight for it.

We need to fight for:

  • Responsible aggregate mining.
  • Better development practices that respect nature.
  • Upstream floodplain regulations that reduce flooding.
  • Flood mitigation efforts that keep the 100-year floodplain a 100-year floodplain.

Why We Need to Fight

I took all of the pictures below in the last three months. They show what we need to save. All were shot inside America’s fourth largest city, which makes them even more unique.

The Kingwood Country Club’s Lake Course. Can you spot the thousands of homes around it?
West Fork of the San Jacinto with Lake Houston on the horizon. Looking SE.
For decades, development preserved nature. This is the result.
Looking north at Lake Houston across the spillway.
Looking south over the Lake Houston Dam toward the industry that powers America and the world.
Looking east from the West Fork toward the East Fork of the San Jacinto with Royal Shores between them.
Looking north along the East Fork. Kingwood’s East End Park is in the center and Huffman is on the right.
Looking SE. FM1960 cuts across Lake Houston and through Huffman in the foreground
Looking Southwest in the opposite direction from over FM1960, with Lake Houston in background.
Looking East across FM2100 and Huffman toward Kingwood on the other side of the lake.
Looking West. The Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project where it enters into Luce Bayou and the headwaters of Lake Houston.
Looking north from the Commons on Lake Houston toward where the new Grand Parkway is circling Houston (out of sight) near the top of the frame. This entire area could soon be developed.
Looking southeast across Kingwood Park High School. Kingwood, where 70,000 people live, is almost invisible, hidden among the trees between the school and Lake Houston at the top of the frame.
Looking north over Forest Cove, toward I-69 and Insperity, Kingwood’s $4 billion company, all hidden in the trees.
Looking NW from the confluence of Spring Creek and the San Jacinto West Fork. All of this land has been bought by a developer.
Fishing from your back door.

If this isn’t worth fighting for, I don’t know what is.

Bob Rehak

Please join the fight. There’s another legislative session starting in six months.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/15/2020

1051 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Lake Conroe Association Fighting Seasonal Lowering in Advance of SJRA Vote to Reconsider Policy

Efforts have started already to lobby against the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe again next year. They seem to be organized and inspired by the Lake Conroe Association again. I understand that the lowering inconveniences some Lake Conroe residents, especially boaters who live in areas like Grand Harbor where the water depth is shallow to start with. However, the inconvenience pales in comparison to the damages suffered in the Lake Houston Area. The lowering helps provide a buffer against downstream flooding during the wettest months of the year. The SJRA will vote on whether to extend the lowering policy at its February board meeting.

A Campaign of Misinformation

The Lake Conroe Association and its proxies are deliberately spreading falsehoods to rile up people against the lowering. The same misinformation contained in the Lake Conroe Association presentation on their news page, is repeated in the website Stop Draining Lake Conroe (https://www.stopdraininglakeconroe.com) and the Grand Harbor YouTube video below.

For the Record…

StopDrainingLakeConroe.com states that:

Lake Houston dredging is complete and completely out of funding. Four fifths of the mouth bar on the West Fork remains in place. Harris County Flood Control has allocated $10 million to help dredge it. See item CI-61. The State of Texas allocated $30 million in SB500. Plans for that project should be announced next week according to State Representative Dan Huberty. The City of Houston has also filed for another FEMA Grant for additional dredging.

Lake Conroe homes are being damaged by the lake lowering. Really? How does that work? Is it the same as 250,000 CFS coming through your living room? That’s what happened to 81 townhomes in Forest Cove. See below.

One of 81 empty townhomes on the West Fork in Forest Cove after the Lake Conroe release. Note the bulk-heading. Harris County Flood Control demolished this building earlier this month. Many others remain, affecting property values around them.

Lake lowering is damaging bulk-heading around Lake Conroe. How does that work? Does evaporation destroy the bulk-heading? See the bulk-heading along the West Fork above.

There is no science to support the original action by the board, or for continuing this action plan. See these engineering reports by Frees & Nichols.

Downstream residents are trying to turn this into a permanent plan. Please tell me who. I’m not aware of any organized effort. The plan has always been to reconsider the lowering every year until flood mitigation measures such as dredging were complete.

SJRA is throwing away $5.33 million of water revenue. It would only be throwing away the revenue if it could sell the water. But there’s no unfilled demand due to water shortages in the lake. And the water replenishes itself as rain falls from the sky.

Water level of Lake Conroe is at 198. That’s an exaggeration to rile up the people in Grand Harbor, who normally only have four feet of water. The lake level is normally at 201′ and currently at 198.82′. That’s 198 and ten inches. So those Grand Harbor people have half their normal water, not one quarter. Current release rate is 0.

Lake Conroe only provided 15% of the water that flooded Kingwood. Lake Conroe only affects the West Fork, but the statistic includes the East Fork. During Harvey, West Fork flooding caused the vast majority of the damage. The Lake Conroe release comprised ONE-THIRD of the water coming down the West Fork through the highly populated Humble/Kingwood corridor where virtually 100% of the businesses are located. Lake Conroe released 80,000 CFS of the 240,00 CFS coming down the West Fork. So the 15% statistic is extremely misleading.

Video Makes Many of Same False Claims And Some More

The video includes many of the same false claims and a few new ones. Let me focus on the new ones.

The video states or implies that:

Describing the lowering as Seasonal rather than Temporary implies we are trying to make it Permanent. I’m not sure how you get from either of those words to “permanent.” This is a logical fallacy. It’s a falsehood designed to inspire fear.

Recent events show that Lake Conroe is being unfairly blamed for downstream flooding. Kingwood still flooded during Imelda “even though we didn’t release anything” during Imelda. Please! The vast majority of all Kingwood flooding during Imelda was street flooding or related to Woodridge Village. Some homes did flood on the East Fork, but I can’t believe any of those residents would blame it on a fictional release from Lake Conroe that wasn’t coming down the West Fork.

There was an “organized effort” in Kingwood to send an unspecified number of “letters” to the SJRA board thanking them for not releasing during Imelda. So what is it? Are we allegedly blaming you for flooding us during Imelda or thanking you for not flooding us? Show me the letters. I’m not aware of any such organized effort. See the comment above.

Kingwood is trying to increase the lowering to 3 feet and Kingwood is winning that fight by a large margin. I’m aware of no effort to increase the lowering and no fight that we’re winning by a large margin.

Wading birds that require shallow areas are being destroyed. Duh! They’re saying birds need shallow water, but they want to make the lake deeper. So if water depth had something to do with destroying birds, who would be destroying them?

Boating Vs. Flooding

Let’s face it. The big reason Lake Conroe residents don’t want to see their lake lowered is that it makes boating more difficult. No argument there.

But the big reason Lake Houston area residents want more dredging is not boating. It’s to reduce flood risk. The mouth bar forms a sediment dam behind the dam that reduces the conveyance of the river through the heavily populated Humble/Kingwood corridor. And until it’s dredged, we need the help of Lake Conroe residents. The lake lowering strategy gives us the only effective way to mitigate flooding for now.

After the Army Corps removed 500,000 cubic yards of sediment from the West Fork mouth bar, Imelda promptly redeposited much of it. Here’s what it looked like after Imelda.

700 yards south of the mouth bar, RD Kissling, a kayaker, photographed himself in 1 foot of water AFTER the Corps finished dredging and after Imelda.

Compare These West Fork Damages

Tens of thousands living north of the West Fork who used I-69 for commuting experienced massive traffic jams every day for 11 months while TxDoT reconstructed the southbound lanes after Harvey. Photo taken 6/19/2018.

We are certainly sensitive to Lake Conroe lifestyle considerations. But during Harvey, Lake Houston Area damages on the West Fork alone included:

Gear Up for a Fight

More on this in future posts. Lake Houston Area residents need to gear up to fight the falsehoods and ensure that Lake Conroe seasonal lowering policy remains in place for another year.

Harvey knocked out the Union Pacific Railroad bridge over the San Jacinto River near I-69 and disrupted rail traffic for months. Photo taken 9/14/2017.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/22/2019

815 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Status Reports on 10 Lake Houston Area Flood Mitigation Projects

Instead of exploring one topic in depth, tonight, I’ll summarize a number of topics related to flood mitigation with just a few sentences on each.

West Fork Mouth Bar Dredging

Mouth bar dredging is going faster than expected. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has not encountered buried trees in that region of the river as they did upstream. Of the 500,000 cubic yards being paid for by FEMA, Great Lakes had already removed about 150,000 as of last Saturday. If they were able to keep that rate, they should be closer to 200,000 cubic yards by now.

West Fork Mouth Bar with Great Lakes Dredge. Drone image courtesy of Franz Willette, BCAeronautics.

That would make them approximately 40% done. Still no word on what comes next. 500,000 cubic yards represents only about a quarter to a third of what needs to be removed to eliminate the backwater effect created by sediment build up. Neither the City, County, State, nor Federal government has yet announced plans for removing the rest. Money is available. But a “placement” permit for the spoils remains elusive.

I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Army Corps five weeks ago for the plans for this project. I think if they had any I would have gotten them by now. This doesn’t exactly involve national security, but people are acting like it does. That worries me.

Kings Harbor Dredging

Callan Marine expects to be done within 10 days and will start demobilizing. This should be welcome news for residents of Kings Lake Estates who have had to live with the noise of booster pumps since the dredging project moved into this reach of the river.

Callan Marine Dredge that has worked the Kings Harbor area for several months.

Ben’s Branch Desilt Project

HCFCD has desilted the upper portion of Bens Branch near Northpark Drive and Woodland Hills. Attention now is shifting farther south, below Kingwood Drive.

Bens Branch near North Park and Woodland Hills

Way back in April, Harris County Flood Control thought it might start work on this project by July. Think August now. The county has already bid the project and awarded the contract. The contractor will remove 77,000 cubic yards of sediment from the area near West Lake Houston Parkway. That’s about 7,700 dump-truck loads. Get ready. Removing all that could take through the end of the year. The City of Houston, though, still has not completed work on the easements that would allow the desilting project to go all the way to the West Fork.

Bens Branch between the Kingwood YMCA and Library. That little spec in the background is a HCFCD surveyor.

Here’s the latest status report from Harris County Flood Control. Currently HCFCD is obtaining the bond and insurance information from the contractor. A pre-construction meeting will take place in the near future at which HCFCD and the contractor will set the notice-to-proceed date.  Ultimately, the contractor should be on the ground working before the end of August 2019.

Three-Phase Taylor Gully De-Snag and De-Silt Projects

Think of this in three separate phases: East Fork to Mills Branch, Mills Branch to Bassingham, and Bassingham to the new construction project project across the Montgomery county line.

Between 2/12/2019 and 4/18/2019, HCFCD in-house crews completed an earthen channel desilt project and a backslope drain repair project from Bassingham Drive to Mills Branch Drive. 

Currently HCFCD in-house crews are focusing on the Montgomery County line to Bassingham.  They are desilting an earthen channel, pruning the fence line, repairing backslope drains, creating new interceptor structures and outfalls, regrading backslope swales, repairing ruts, and installing gates and signs.

Flood Control will also fix the broken concrete rubble at the downstream end of the concrete drop structure which is downstream of Mills Branch Drive. Before they leave, crews will double check the flow line of Taylor Gully from Bassingham Drive to Maple Bend Drive and remove any siltation blocking flow if needed. 

Regarding the last segment, Flood Control removed many downed trees in the natural part of Taylor Gully leading to the East Fork after Hurricane Harvey. Since then, residents have reported more trees that have fallen into the channel. Flood Control has scheduled the removal of these downed trees in Fall/Winter 2019. 

Erosion on the downstream natural portion of Taylor Gully threatens homes in Woodstream Village. Flood Control will once again de-snag this area this fall or winter. Photo Courtesy of Chris Kalman.

San Jacinto River Regional Watershed Master Drainage Plan

This study (partially funded by FEMA HMGP funds) will guide future decisions (and funding) for large flood damage reduction projects upstream of Kingwood. Think additional detention that could help offset future releases from Lake Conroe during floods. While consultants have not yet identified suitable areas for new reservoirs, they have reportedly ruled out Lake Creek because of new developments spring up in the area. The project was expected to take about 15 months and kicked off in April. Flood Control expects to have the final report by the fall of 2020. For videos and more background info on the study, click here.

As part of the project, the consultant will recalibrate hydrologic models using new Atlas 14 data from NOAA. This project could also affect additional gates for the Lake Houston Dam and maintenance dredging.

Woodridge Village Development

A judge has set a trial date in July of 2020 for all the lawsuits resulting from the May 7th flood this year. Meanwhile construction continues. Jeff Miller shot this video last week showing the status of the crucial S2 detention pond adjacent to Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest.

Video Courtesy of Jeff Miller showing the status of construction in S2, the Woodridge Village detention pond adjacent to the homes that flooded on May 7th in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest.

I have also received reports of the developer bringing in fill to raise the northern section of the property. If true, neighbors should be on high alert.

Lake Conroe Lowering by SJRA

Lake Conroe is normally at 201 feet above sea level. To create an extra buffer against floods during the peak of hurricane season (August/September), the SJRA will start gradually lowering Lake Conroe on August 1. They hope to get to 200 feet by August 15 and 199 feet by September 1. They will hold that level until October and then let the lake gradually rise back to its normal level. The National Hurricane Center expects no tropical activity anywhere in The Atlantic or Gulf during the next 5 days.

Huffman Area General Drainage Improvements

Harris County Flood Control met with community members on July 11 to discuss the status of improvements to Huffman area drainage. They are too numerous to list here. But Flood Control has a page on its web site dedicated to Huffman now. Here is the presentation from the Community Meeting.

Inundation Map of Huffman Area from Harris County Flood Control.

Based on an analysis of Harvey flooding in three watersheds (East Fork, Luce Bayou and Cedar Bayou), the flood control district is investigating:

  • Stormwater Detention Basins
  • Channel Maintenance
  • Channel Modifications
  • Voluntary Home Buyouts

The District should make final recommendations by this fall.

Montgomery County New Development and Construction Practices

Four people called me in the last two days about flooding on their properties due to construction practices on new, nearby developments. Complaints involved filling in of wetlands and natural streams; altering or blocking natural drainage; plus elevating property and regrading it to drain onto neighbor’s property.

Part of the Woodridge Village development above Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. Many other developments are starting up in MoCo that will drain into the West Fork.

Not sure what’s happening all of a sudden. This may be MoCo’s answer to urban renewal. According to victims, commissioners seem unconcerned. According to New Caney ISD reports, as many as 4,000 new homes could soon be built in this area. Main focus seems to be between Sorters and West Fork along 1314 up to highway 99. More news to follow.

Romerica High-Rise Project

This isn’t really a mitigation project. But it would require one if built. Romerica’s spokesperson has indicated they plan to re-apply for a permit once they find ways to respond to all the concerns raised during the public comment period for the Corps permit application. However, Romerica’s PR agency has not said when that may happen. Meanwhile they have taken down many of the websites about the project. One remains: TheHeronsKingwood.com.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/28/2019 with imagery from Jeff Miller, BCAeronautics, and Chris Kalman

698 Days since Hurricane Harvey