Tag Archive for: Preserve at Woodridge

“Spacious” 763-SF Homes Available March 16

The Preserve at Woodridge website indicates that the developer, Guefen, will begin leasing spacious, 763 SF, 1-bedroom, 1-bath, luxury homes beginning March 16, 2023 … for only $1365 per month. Even more spacious, 1388-SF homes will begin leasing later at just $2145 per month.

The marketing theme: “There’s room for you at Preserve at Woodridge.”

According to the website, luxury units in the Preserve offer “unparalleled amenities,” such as backyards, toilets, tubs, sinks and on-street parking – with a $0 deposit. A few lucky renters will even have the option of reserved, covered parking spots for an undisclosed fee.

But the biggest plus? Some units have enough grass for a lawn chair.

65% Impervious Cover?

Engineers claim the detention pond will hold a 100-year rain that falls in 24-hours. But they also based their calculations on 65% impervious cover. The photos below show that may have been understated.

The higher the percentage of impervious cover, the more runoff you have and the larger the stormwater detention basin you need.

It will be interesting to see how these homes fare when FEMA releases new flood maps later this year.

Oh well. Too late now!

Photos Taken March 3, 2023

The pictures show how close the homes are to completion…and each other.

Overview of Preserve at Woodridge, looking east over Woodridge Parkway.
The grand entry near Woodridge Parkway built around a community pool. Those elongated structures are shared garage spaces, but most of the parking will be on-street.
You’ll have to share those spacious back yards with an air conditioning unit, but you’ll have a concrete patio in case grass doesn’t grow in the shade.
Twelve lucky homes will have a view of the stormwater detention basin which will hold water permanently.

With luck, the waterfront residents might even be able to shag some foul balls from the Kingwood Park High School baseball fields across the ditch.

Will Proximity of Homes be a Pro or Con?

Psychological research has documented strong positive associations between interpersonal closeness and social decisions such as cooperative behavior and trust. From that perspective, perhaps housing like this is the wave of the future.

On the other hand, overcrowding can lead to psychological distress. That, in turn, has an effect on behavior and the ability to cope with conditions. Researchers have linked lack of privacy to depression and other negative psychological consequences. But hey. It can’t be more crowded than New York.

This is a new model for development – a whole community of homes separated by only 4-5 feet. Only time will tell whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/7/2023

2016 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.

Preserve At Woodridge All Framed Out

It won’t be long now before we start seeing moving trucks at the Preserve at Woodridge. The new high-density, low-grass, pet-friendly, community of 131 free-standing rental homes has reached a milestone. The entire development is framed out. See the pictures below.

Photos Taken on January 29, 2023

Looking SE toward Kingwood Park High School from over St. Martha Catholic Church parking lot.
Last homes under construction on the SW corner of the new subdivision.
Looking toward the west from over the detention pond gives you a feeling for how close together these homes are.
65% impervious cover according to the RG Miller plans.
The pearlescent, allegedly “grass lined” stormwater detention basin seems to still leak silty stormwater into this tributary of Ben’s Branch.

Who is the Market For These Homes?

It will be interesting to see what types of tenants this subdivision attracts. The website shows a picture of young adults by a pool. These homes might represent a step up from apartments for some of them.

But none of the website’s pictures feature empty-nesters who might be looking to downsize. The long walks between cars and front doors could make it difficult to get all those groceries into the kitchen.

And the small amount of parking could deter families with more than one car.

Glad it’s not my money at risk. But maybe they’ve identified a new market niche.

The biggest complaints I hear are that these homes don’t fit the character of the surrounding community. People worry about negative impacts on their property values.

I have also heard firefighters express safety concerns about the proximity of the homes.

Regardless of how you feel, it’s too late to do anything about these now.

History of Project

To see the progression of this project, see the following posts:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/3/23

1984 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.

Impervious Cover Percentage Raises Downstream Concerns

The Preserve at Woodridge based its detention basin calculations on 65% impervious cover. But photos taken on 11/26/22, a full year after they cleared the land, suggest the impervious-cover percentage may have been dramatically understated.

That affects the amount and speed of runoff. And that raises concerns for downstream residents along Ben’s Branch, many of whom have flooded in recent years, in part because of dense upstream developments like this one.

Looking straight down reveals little dirt between the densely packed rental homes and the concrete surrounding them.

Taken 11/26/22

I continue to be amazed at how the developer claims that one third of this dense, concrete bungle is NOT “impervious cover.” And lest you think I selectively cropped the photo above to exaggerate the percentage of concrete, the shot below shows virtually the entire development.

Taken 11/26/22. Area on right still does not have sidewalks.

Pushing the Limits

At my age, I don’t like the idea of carrying groceries blocks from my car to my house – which I would potentially have to do here.

Nevertheless, to give credit where credit is due, it appears that this developer has a flair for pushing limits. Just look at the development’s website. They offer “unmatched amenities” like vinyl flooring.

And some homes are 660 square feet. Much smaller and you would expect the residents to wear orange jumpsuits.

But still, this new concept in luxury living has its rewards:

  • No stairs to climb like in apartments.
  • An extra wall between you and your neighbor’s stereo.
  • On-street parking, just like Manhattan.
  • 147 parking spaces for 131 homes.
  • Plenty of nearby food-trucks.
  • A “Scream Park” and fireworks stand within walking distance.
  • No leaves to rake.
  • Your own toilet.

This is way better than life in a frat house. The stainless steel refrigerators are definitely a step up from Igloo coolers.

The only thing missing is a pet run that can accommodate a Chihuahua and Cocker Spaniel at the same time.

But seriously, this developer claims to have identified a niche between sleeping bags and starter homes. Perhaps the company will pioneer a new market and this will be the future of Montgomery County. To see their construction plans, click here.

Will Detention Basin Hold Enough?

I just hope their detention pond is big enough in case their impervious-cover calculations are off.

Preserve at Woodridge detention basin is built to pre-Atlas 14 rainfall rates. It appears partially fenced in so that residents can’t walk around it.

Montgomery County’s Subdivision Rules and Regulations specify that outfall ditches, such as the one in the photo above only need to carry a 25 year rain. (See page 9.) With that in mind, it seems that this detention pond would fill up quickly from ditch overflow in a 25-year rain and provide little detention benefit during 50- or 100-year rains. And that’s no joke.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/28/2022

1918 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.

November Flood-News Roundup

Below is a roundup of flood news this week – seven quick stories.

Montgomery County Buyout Deadline Fast Approaching

The deadline for the current round of buyout applications in Montgomery County is November 30, 2022.

The Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management still has money left in a Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) allocated the money to buy out homes flooded during 2016 and 2017 (Harvey).

There are strict eligibility requirements; see the applications online. However, MoCo is now taking applications from homeowners who flooded repeatedly regardless of income level. Previously, the county was giving preference to low-to-middle income (LMI) families meet HUD’s LMI quotas.

While HUD does cap maximum buyout costs, Montgomery County offers several “credits” that can help people. Those include, but are not limited to special credits for seniors and veterans, and for moving expenses.

The county is hosting a series of meetings to help residents understand their options. More details to follow in a separate post on this subject.

Tammy Gunnels home in Porter flooded 13 times in 11 years before finally getting a buyout last year through the programs mentioned above.

Regional Flood Planning Group Draft Plan

The public comment period for the San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group’s draft plan closed on October 29th. Here’s an overview of their recommendations. One was developing detention on and channelizing portions of Spring Creek. The Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC), one of the Houston region’s leading conservation groups, had concerns with that.

BLC submitted this letter. It details the dangers of channelization to the 14,000 acres it preserves. In particular, BLC feels the report does not adequately consider erosion that could be caused by speeding up floodwaters. They say that detention and channelization projects could destabilize the entire natural system along Spring Creek. They urge more study on sedimentation and erosion before moving forward with construction.

The next step: the Regional Flood Planning Group will consider all comments received and modify the draft plan as needed.

$750 Million HUD Grant to Harris County

After promising to submit its $750 million Method of Distribution (MOD) to the GLO by the end of September, Harris County still has not yet submitted it. GLO first said it planned to allocate the money to Harris County in May, 2021 – 17 months ago!

The MOD is a plan that shows how Harris County would allocate the money. Who gets how much for what? MOD approval is necessary to ensure the County spends the money in accordance with HUD and GLO requirements.

The money could cover all under- and unfunded projects in the 2018 Flood Bond. But in April, Harris County’s new administrator assigned the task of developing the MOD to the Community Services Department instead of the Flood Control District – even though Community Services has had four leadership changes under Lina Hidalgo.

Community Services said that it planned to deliver the MOD to GLO by the end of September and publish the draft MOD by the end of October. Neither happened. The last response from Community Services was at the start of October.

At that time, the department head said the group had determined a “process” for developing the MOD. But they had yet to define any projects. For that, they were waiting for “direction from leadership.” As a result, $750 million that could mitigate flooding in Harris County is still sitting in Washington at HUD.

Meanwhile, GLO also notified H-GAC of a $488 million dollar allocation on the same day in May, 2021. H-GAC has already developed its MOD and gotten it approved. And H-GAC sub-recipients are reportedly already taking bids on projects.

There’s a lot of flood-mitigation money waiting in the wings that could accelerate Harris County projects. The longer Community Services waits, the more it places the money in jeopardy. Fifty percent must be spent in the next three years.

“Water Has a Memory”

New York 1 published a fascinating story about an ecologist tracing New York flooding back to its roots with old maps. The title: “A map of New York City before it was a city could provide answers to today’s flooding.”

The central figure in this detective story is Eric Sanderson. He cross-references current flooding issues with a historical chart of “the city’s buried, drained, filled-in or paved-over waterways.”

In every case, he says, the problems have the same roots. 

People built lives in places that used to be underwater. And water, he says, has a memory. 

“Maybe there was a wetland there, maybe there was a stream there, maybe there was a pond there, and people have forgotten,” Sanderson said in the interview.

We see this constantly in Houston. In one extreme case, a developer cleared property, filled in wetlands and THEN conducted an environmental survey.


All but a few of the 131 mini-homes at the Preserve at Woodridge are now framed out. The closer this site gets to completion, the more I question the accuracy of the engineer’s claim of only 66% impervious cover.

The Preserve at Woodridge will feature some homes as large as 660 square feet and four feet apart. Photo October 31, 2022.
Kids will love this area for Halloween. More candy per footstep.

Flood-Insurance Flap

The Houston Chronicle recently published an editorial about new flood Insurance rates designed to stanch financial hemorrhaging in the National Flood Insurance Plan. The title: “What happened to affordable flood insurance?”

For the first time this year, FEMA is trying to put flood insurance rates on an actuarial basis. But weening people off nationally subsidized insurance is proving difficult. The article claims some people have 500% rate increases even though increases are capped at a far lower rate.

While bemoaning the unintended consequences of well-intended reforms, the editorial proposes a solution: making flood-insurance rates “income based”!

One wonders about the unintended consequences of that. Will the availability of cheap flood insurance encourage building low-income housing only in the riskiest areas?

We shouldn’t forget that it was the availability of cheap flood insurance that encouraged building in flood-prone areas to begin with.

There may be no good solutions to this problem. Many feel government should have never have gotten involved in flood insurance from the start.

One insurance agent I talked to suggested this. “Worst case: offer buyouts to people who can’t afford flood insurance with the understanding that if declined, then there will be no more assistance for financial losses due to flooding.”

I personally favor a two-tiered public/private approach similar to Medicare. Cap the federally subsidized insurance at a level that stops the hemorrhaging. Then, let private insurers fill the gaps up to the full value of expensive homes.

This debate could take years.

New Netflix Series: High Water

Sally Geis, a former Kingwood resident, wrote me about a new Netflix show called “High Water.” It’s based on true events in 1997. It describes a massive flood that took place in Wrocław, Poland. The flood caused $3.5 billion in damages and put almost half of the city underwater.

However, it could have been smaller if one of the villages had allowed the incoming flood waters to be diverted onto their fields. Their “not-in-my-backyard” refusal and the disastrous individual and community consequences are the theme of the series. Sound familiar?

The acting and production design are first-rate, according to Geis. “It’s a story about a real disaster and real problems that can happen anywhere on the globe right now,” she says.

Click here for the trailer.


Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/4/22

1893 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.

65% Impervious Cover? Get Out the Ruler!

In January of this year, when they kicked off construction at the Preserve at Woodridge, I posted about the Montgomery County development claiming 65% impervious cover. It’s time to get out the ruler. See pictures below taken on 10/22/22.

Looking SE across Woodridge Parkway toward Kingwood Park High School out of frame at the top.

I felt at the time that the 65% claim didn’t pass eyeball test. I feel even more strongly about that now.

The Preserve at Woodridge will boast 131 homelets on about 10 acres. Looking west toward St. Martha Catholic Church.
Some are just 4 feet apart. The wider row at the top will be divided into backyards.

The walkway going left to right through the bottom of the frame will be people’s front yards. Not quite southern mansions. But there’s plenty of room for a daffodil and a fire hose.

How Impervious Cover Can Contribute to Flooding

The higher the percentage of impervious cover, the less stormwater soaks into the ground. It runs off faster. And without sufficient detention pond capacity, flood peaks build higher.

That’s why I’m so concerned about the accuracy of the 65% estimate. The capacity of their detention pond was configured based on one third grass.

The lack of green space upstream is a growing issue downstream. Our drainage systems never anticipated this kind of density.

And don’t forget, this development also based its drainage calculations on pre-Atlas 14 rainfall rates.

Growth of Impervious Cover

USGS says one third of Harris County is now impervious cover. With more developments like this, the southern part of Montgomery County could one day surpass Harris County!

In December, the New York Times published a story about a company called Descartes Labs, which had trained computers to scan satellite images to detect changes in impervious cover. Descartes found that Texas had 9 of the top 20 counties in the U.S. when ranked by the growth of impervious cover.

Areas with high rates of impervious cover, as determined by Descartes Labs. Black dots represent growth of impervious cover. Note the ring around Houston.

To put 65% impervious cover in perspective (assuming the developer’s estimate is accurate), nationwide only about 4.4% of the land in the U.S. has more than 40%. And usually only shopping malls and high-density apartment complexes have more than 65%.

Current drainage capacity rarely anticipates development like this. That’s why so much of Houston’s drainage infrastructure struggles to function properly in heavy rains. It’s also why in 2010, the City of Houston instituted a drainage fee based on the percentage of impervious cover. The purpose: to raise money to repair/upgrade antiquated drainage systems taxed by overdevelopment and to encourage developers to leave more green space.

Close inspection of this site shows that the developer did leave leave one row of pet-friendly trees along the northern side.

Somebody screwed up. They could have squeezed another row of homes in there.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/22/22

1880 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.

Nephew Izzy Considering Homelets

My weird nephew Izzy wants to rent one of those new 660-square-foot homelets going up in the Preserve at Woodridge. He came to me so excited the other day that he was gesturing wildly and sloshed beer all over his Mötley Crüe T-shirt.

“Uncle Bob,” he enthused, “You gotta see these places! I can maybe actually possibly afford one!”

131 homes under construction, 13 to the acre. Photo taken 9/2/22.

That’s saying a lot. Or a little. Izzy isn’t exactly the top earner down at the Crystal Pistol. The owner demoted him from bartender to sweeping up beer nuts and cigarette butts. That happened after the owner learned Izzy had applied to be the head of the Flood Control District. Something about not showing loyalty and appreciation.

“A lease is a pretty big obligation, Izzy,” I said.

“It’s better than living outa the back seat of my Oldsmobile,” Izzy shot back.

“I thought you told me it would be a collector’s item someday.”

All the Amenities

“True,” said Izzy, “but these homelets, they got flush toilets.”

“I can see the advantage there. But they’re so close together, Izzy.”

“That’s one of the big pluses, Uncle Bob.”

“Why is that?”

“No trees to water. No grass to mow. More time for the ladies.”

Some of the homelets are more than 4 feet apart. Density is about 13 homelets to the acre.

“But Izzy. People commute all the way to Kingwood because they like nature.”

“Well, I heard they give you a geranium.”

“Will it fit?”

“Them homelets, they got plenty of room. Some even gots a study.”

“Do you own a book, Izzy?”

“No, but I got me a library card.”

“Have you ever used it?”

“I see your point, Uncle Bob. “

“Izzy, what you really need is a washer and drier.”

“They got them!”

“A shower?”


“When do you move in?”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/3/2022

1831 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.

TCEQ Finds Nothing Wrong With Preserve At Woodridge Construction

A TCEQ investigation found nothing wrong with construction practices at the Preserve at Woodridge despite photographic evidence.

On April 23, 2022, I received multiple complaints about silty stormwater in Bens Branch. I confirmed discoloration in the water and followed it upstream. The source appeared to be the Preserve at Woodridge on Woodridge Parkway opposite the new St. Martha church. Photos confirmed that contractors were:

  • Pumping the contents of their silty detention pond into a tributary of Bens Branch.
  • Piling dirt on neighboring property.
  • Not using silt fence along their southern boundary.
  • Not posting permits.

I then filed a complaint with the TCEQ. They investigated on June 21, 2022, almost two months later. And found nothing wrong.

Today, August 3, 2022, I received this letter confirming they found nothing wrong.

Letter from TCEQ. For a high-res PDF, click here.

Caught on Camera

My complaint was based on these photos (among others).

silty stormwater discharge
Stormwater discharge into Bens Branch from Preserve at Woodridge Forest.
preserve at Woodridge
Note pile of sediment in front of hose (bottom center).
silt from Preserve at Woodridge
Silty stormwater had migrated more than two miles down Bens Branch past Tree Lane.

I guess there was nothing wrong. Message received, TCEQ.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/3/2022

1800 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Why You Build Detention Ponds First

A best practice in the construction industry is to build detention ponds before you clear all the land. In Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest, we saw what can happen when you don’t. Contractors cleared 277-acres before installing sufficient detention pond capacity. The result: hundreds of homes flooded needlessly. Twice. And silt poured into Taylor Gully which had to be excavated at public expense.

Staging Construction, Temporary Seeding, Mulching Not Used to Reduce Sedimentation

Harris County Stormwater Quality Management Regulations discourage clearcutting large sites all at once. See section, Stormwater Pollution Prevention (SWPPP) During Construction. The text states, “The clearing, grubbing and scalping (mass clearing or grading) of excessively large areas of land at one time promotes erosion and sedimentation problems. On the areas where disturbance takes place the site designer should consider staging construction [emphasis added], temporary seeding and/or temporary mulching as a technique to reduce erosion. Staging construction involves stabilizing one part of the site before disturbing another [emphasis added].“

But those rules don’t apply in Montgomery County. So you often see developers trying to build detention ponds as they build (or even after they build) the rest of the site.

Case in Point: Preserve at Woodridge

Such is the case at the Preserve at Woodridge…which promises “resort-style amenities.”

Preserve at Woodridge on 5/22/22. Eighty-five of 131 rental homes now under construction. That’s two thirdsbefore the detention pond is built.

Plans show that more houses will go in on the right.

Meanwhile, compare the detention ponds below. One is a white, chalky mess with dirt still piled around the edges. The other: pretty clean. Of course, residents pay to keep it that way.

Preserve at Woodridge is in bottom left and Woodridge Forest is in upper part of frame. Notice the difference in the water color in the detention ponds.
Contractors have excavated additional dirt from the detention pond (mounded around edges and at left) to bring in clay to form a liner.

The sad part of this: downstream residents will pay the price. And because this is another development just north of the county line, that will be Kingwood. The last time, the developer pumped stormwater into the drainage ditch, the silt traveled miles down Ben’s Branch.

Why Bring In Clay?

I asked an expert in floodwater detention basin construction, why the developer would bring in clay? The answer: “To create a wet-bottom pond.” Developers sell those as residential amenities. I applaud that. But my point is this. Had they completed the detention pond first, it could have been growing grass to reduce sedimentation while they developed the rest of the property. That approach seemed to work well at the New Caney High School ISD West Fork High School.

The detention pond at the New Caney West Fork High School had already been mowed when they began pouring concrete. Photo from March 2021.

Lest you think I’m a MoCo basher, let me point out this. The detention pond above is also in MoCo.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/24/22

1729 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.

Half of Preserve at Woodridge Already Framed Out.

Less than six months ago, Guefen started clearing land for the Preserve at Woodridge. Plans showed that the Preserve would contain 131 Lilliputian-sized homes for rent, some as large as 668 square feet. Already, more than half the homes are framed out. And one fifth have roofs. I counted 73 homes either completely or mostly framed in the photos below.

Photos Taken April 30

Here are some pictures taken of the Preserve at Woodridge last week.

According to plans, the vertical wall behind the homesites will be a retaining wall. In the pond itself, contractors are to install a 2-foot thick clay liner in 8″ lifts, each compacted to 95%.
As of last Saturday, contractors were still pumping silty stormwater into this channel which empties into Bens Branch at Northpark Drive.
Looking SW across 17 acre site toward Northpark Drive and St. Martha Catholic Church.
Not much grass will grow between these homes. It will be in shade most of the day.
Looking east from over Woodridge Parkway toward Kingwood Park High School and KSA’s Northpark Recreation area.

The developer claimed 65% impervious cover. But work to date appears much denser.

Preserve at Woodridge Detention Pond Progress Much Slower

If only the pace of work on the detention pond went as fast! Instead, contractors have treated it like an afterthought. They still haven’t come close to finishing it. And grass lining? Plans don’t mention it as far as I can see.

To see the complete plans, click here. You can find the detention basin plans and calculations on pages 18-24.

It’s not clear whether the detention pond will have a grass liner to reduce erosion or simply a compacted clay liner.

The construction plans call for compacted clay. And a search for the word “grass” did not turn up any mentions in the construction docs.

MoCo Drainage Regs Murky on Grass Lining of Detention Ponds

Montgomery County Drainage regulations get murky on whether detention ponds must have a grass lining.

7.2.7 Erosion Control Measures for Detention Facilities” on Page 113 says:

“The erosion potential for a detention basin is similar to that of an open channel. For this reason the same types of erosion protection are necessary, including the use of backslope swales and drainage systems (as outlined in SECTION 6), proper revegetation, and pond surface lining where necessary.”

The wording in 7.2.7 leaves room for interpretation. It’s not clear whether engineers must specify all or one of the alternatives listed.

So I checked Section 6, which pertains to CHANNEL construction. “6.2.1 Grass Establishment” on Page 85 says:

“A good grass cover must be established on all areas within the right-of-way (except the channel bottom) disturbed by channel improvements or by any type of construction. An adequate grass stand on the banks helps stabilize the channel and minimizes erosion caused by overbank flow and high velocities in the channel.”

There’s certainly a lot of ambiguity in these specifications. Montgomery County has not yet responded to a complaint about the pumping of the silty stormwater down Ben’s Branch. And the only plans the engineering department supplied are those linked above.

Best Practices Vs. Industry Standard Vs. Minimum Requirements

A source knowledgeable about construction reminded me of the tremendous difference that exists between Best Practices, Industry Standards, and Minimum Requirements. Few companies will follow best practices if it costs them money, said the source. Even industry standard practices are optional. Most just follow the minimum requirements.

And even if the engineering plans comply with those requirements, there’s no guarantee contractors will follow the plans.

So understand your local regs. And report corner cutting when you see it.

Best practices call for detention ponds to be among the first things finished on a construction site. MoCo doesn’t mandate that, however. Grass would certainly help reduce erosion here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/4/2022

710 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.

Silty Detention Pond Flushed into Bens Branch

Contractors at the controversial mini rent home development called the Preserve at Woodridge Forest flushed a silt-laden detention pond into a stormwater channel leading to Bens Branch this week. The silty water migrated at least two miles downstream. The pictures below show the trail of silt.

On 4/17/22, Easter Sunday, I photographed a full pond and noticed a pump in the upper right (southeast) corner of the pond.

Looking east over Preserve at Woodridge Forest detention pond on Easter Sunday. Note pump in upper right and pond level.

Three days later, the pump was still going and the pond was nearly empty.

Pump still working on Wednesday.

The ditch between the Preserve and Kingwood Park High School was filled with identically colored water.

Color of water in ditch matches color of water in pond. Note pile of silt in ditch below pump hose in lower left.
Looking north past pump and the near-empty detention pond.
Equipment apparently cleared paths for northern end of pond to drain toward pump.

Where did all the silty water go?

Bens Branch south of Northpark Drive.
One block downstream, Bens Branch at Woodland Hills Drive.
Bens Branch at Tree Lane approximately 2 miles south of construction site. Resident Chris Bloch followed the pollution even farther downstream.

Fish Story

As I photographed the silty water above going down Bens Branch, two young boys with fishing poles came up to me. They looked at the water in disbelief and then looked at me quizzically. “Do you think it’s safe?” they asked.

“Hard to tell,” I said. “It’s runoff from a construction site upstream.”

They left without even dropping a hook into the water or saying a word. Smart kids.

Dangers of Sediment Pollution

The EPA published this brochure that explains some of the dangers of sediment pollution. Among them, it says, “Sediment in stream beds disrupts the natural food chain by destroying the habitat where the smallest stream organisms live and causing massive declines in fish populations. Sediment increases the cost of treating drinking water and can result in odor and taste problems.” Bens Branch empties straight into Lake Houston, the source of drinking water for 2 million people.

Sediment can also clog streams, reducing their carrying capacity. Harris County Flood Control recently cleaned out Bens Branch in a 4-phase project. According to the Kingwood Area Drainage analysis, it had been reduced to a 2-year level of service in places. That means it would flood on a 2-year rain.

No Permit Posted

For these reasons, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality closely monitors construction sites. But the Preserve at Woodridge did not have a TCEQ Construction General Permit posted at the street. This web page seems to indicate they should have one. See Step 5. It says, “Before starting construction, post a copy of the Site Notice at the construction site. Leave the notice posted until construction is completed.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/23/22, with thanks to Chris Bloch for alerting me to the story

1698 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.