On Tuesday this week, I created a post in response to a question about whether they really were taking sand out of the river. Someone thought the presence of dredges on the river was a government hoax because they didn’t see any trucks carrying sand away. Shades of Roswell and UFOs!
I explained that they were pumping it back upstream to sand pits via submerged pipelines. Placement Area #1 (PA 1) is an old pit no longer in active use. Placement area #2 (PA 2) is an active sand mine south of Kingwood College on Sorters Road.
Quantities Dredged to Date
According to Al Meyer, the Army Corps Project Manager, dredged material placed in the pits to date is approximately 418,000 cubic yards at PA 1 and 825,000 cubic yards at PA 2. That’s about two-thirds of the total estimated volume of 1.9 million cubic yards for the entire project.
Dozens of readers complained that they weren’t selling sand from the placement areas. Their concern: that it could wash right back into to the river. Most people wanted to see it put to use somehow…as fill for foundations, in concrete, etc…outside of the flood plain.
The Army Corps contract gives dredging companies and landowners the right to sell the material pulled out of the river. (See SECTION 02 41 01.01 45 Page 4 ) But were they? I asked the Corps. Here’s what I found out.
Placement Area #1
The abandoned pit south of the river is filling up quickly. So far, no sand has been sold from tha as far as I know and the Corps did not return a phone call on that subject.
Unconfirmed rumors say that the landowner may keep the sand and build on top of it. It certainly appears that way. I see no sorting or loading equipment on site. One bulldozer keeps relentlessly moving around, spreading and leveling the sand that has piled up. However, it could be mined and resold at a later date if the owner chooses.
Placement Area #2 on Sorters
The active pit on Sorters has received about twice as much material as the inactive pit on Townsend. But it is not filling up as quickly. That’s because they’re selling the sand.
As it enters the pit, a dredge sucks it up and sends it to machines that cleans and sorts it. The mine then sells the coarse sand for use in concrete. They sell the fine sand for mortar in the construction trades, fill and pipeline bedding.
Free Use of Land In Exchange for Right to Sell
According to the Corps’ Lt. Col. Williford, the sand mine operators offer the free use of their land for storage in exchange for the right to sell the material. This seems fair. It keeps the cost to taxpayers down. The material is put to good use. And, at least in the case of PA2, they are removing it from the flood plain.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/15/2019
563 Days since Hurricane Harvey