Tag Archive for: Sprint Sand & Clay

Rate of Woodridge Village Excavation Increases 47%

The rate of excavation for another stormwater detention basin on the Woodridge Village property picked up 47% in the last five weeks. That’s compared to the weekly average since Sprint Sand and Clay began excavating last year under the terms of its Excavation and Removal (E&R) contract with Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD).

  • The current weekly rate is the highest since last July.
  • As of:
    • January 30, 2023, Sprint had excavated 80,360 cubic yards (CY)
    • March 6, 2023, Sprint has excavated 93,023 CY, according to HCFCD.
  • Dividing the difference by five weeks, yields an average of 2,532.6 CY per week.
  • The weekly average since the start of excavation 54 weeks ago equals 1722.7 CY.
  • So, the February/early March data is an increase of more than 800 cubic yards per week compared to the long-term average, a 47% increase.

Demand for dirt under E&R contracts varies with with housing starts and road construction. Housing starts have slowed greatly in recent months as interest rates have increased to cool inflation. It’s not clear yet whether the increased rate of excavation represents a temporary blip or the beginning of a turnaround in the market for dirt.

Then and Now Photos

Here’s the extent of excavation on the new pond as of January 24, 2023.

Woodridge Village Detention Pond #6
Woodridge Village Detention Basin #6 at the end of January 2023. Contractors have not yet connected the new basin to others.

Here’s how the new basin looks today from approximately the same location – much longer!

Same location at start of March.
Sprint has not yet reached the end of S1, the detention basin on the right.
Looking south toward Kingwood. Sprint has the width of four or five more houses to go before it reaches as far as the end of S1. The tree line in the background is the Harris/Montgomery County line.

Increased Rate is Welcome News

The increase in the excavation rate is welcome news for residents who flooded twice in 2019, thanks in large part to Woodridge Village construction practices. Perry Homes left the aborted development about 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements. Since then HCFCD and the City of Houston bought the site and are working on ways to reduce flood risk.

E&R contracts give HCFCD a low-cost head start on mitigation as engineers finalize plans. Knowing that they will need additional stormwater detention capacity, HCFCD established a flexible contract with Sprint for only $1,000. It lets Sprint remove up 500,000 CY and sell the dirt at market rates. This virtually eliminates a major construction cost and provides major savings to taxpayers.

Sprint is obligated to remove a minimum average of 5,000 CY per month and must place the dirt outside of the 100-year floodplain. The contract lasts three years.

Sprint will excavate within the red line. If they move the total 500,000 cubic yards, they will more than double stormwater detention capacity on the site.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/6/2023

2015 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1264 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.

New Woodridge Village Detention Basin Already 2nd Largest

As of January 30, 2023, Sprint Sand and Clay had excavated 80,360 Cubic Yards of dirt from a sixth Woodridge Village stormwater detention basin under an Excavation and Removal Contract with Harris County Flood Control District. Even though the new basin is not yet complete, it is already the second largest on the site.

Sprint’s $1,000 contract gives it the right to excavate up to 500,000 cubic yards and sell the dirt at market rates to make its money back. The purpose: to get a head start on construction of another basin that could eventually double Woodridge Village stormwater detention capacity so that it will exceed Atlas-14 requirements and create a safety margin to accommodate future development.

Reason for Project

Perry Homes sold the failed development to Harris County Flood Control District in 2021 after it contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019.

Excavation began in early 2022. By the end of that year, Sprint had removed 73,745 cubic yards of soil. January’s total means Sprint is about one-sixth of the way toward its goal.

The basin already holds a considerable amount of runoff as the pictures below show. The pictures were taken on 1/24/23 after a five-year rain (3.6 inches in two hours). That’s about half the volume that fell on May 7, 2019 when Woodridge Village first flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. But at that time, only the long narrow detention basin on the lower right had been completed.

Looking NE across the main part of Woodridge. Basin in foreground is the one under construction.

Reverse angle, looking SW toward Woodland Hills Drive and Kingwood Park High School.

New Excavation Already Second Largest on Site

80,360 cubic yards equals 49.8 acre feet. Woodridge Village’s five original basins had the following capacity:

  • N1 = 13.2 acre feet
  • N2 = 154.7 acre feet
  • N3 = 42 acre feet
  • S1 = 18.6 acre feet
  • S2 = 42.5 acre feet
Original Detention Pond Capacity on Woodridge Village

That means the new basin already ranks as the second largest on the Woodridge Village site.

Only N2 has more capacity at the present. But eventually, the new basin could double its size.
All basins will eventually converge into the basin in left foreground above. From there, water exits into Taylor Gully.
Despite the 5-year rain that fell only hours before these photos, Taylor Gully never came close to overflowing on January 24th because of the controlled release rate.

More capacity will mean the site can safely handle much larger rainfalls.

Current detention pond capacity equals 271 acre feet. When complete, the new basin will add 309 acre feet, more than doubling the site’s stormwater detention capacity.

Funding and Next Steps

This is all part of a larger plan outlined in the preliminary engineering review for Taylor Gully that HCFCD shared with the public in December. The plan also calls for deepening a portion of Taylor Gully and replacing the twin-culvert bridge at Rustic Elms with an open-span bridge.

U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw has already secured $1.6 million for Taylor Gully Improvements. The City of Houston also has secured a $10.1 million loan from the Texas Water Development Board to improve drainage in the Taylor Gully watershed.

Next up: final design of the improvements before construction can begin.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/31/23

1981 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1230 since TS 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.

Progress Report New Woodridge Village Floodwater Detention Basin

A new floodwater detention basin that will ultimately more than double the capacity of Woodridge Village is expanding slowly but steadily. To date, 33,159 cubic yards have been excavated! The pictures below show progress since the start of work in late January.

Photos showing Progress

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) announced the project on 11/24/2021. Excavation started on 1/27/22.

beginning of Woodridge Village excavation
First truckloads of of excavated material leave the southwest corner of the site on 1/27/22. Looking SW.
Wider shot taken on same day looking NE looking in opposite direction. The new basin will eventually expand to cover most of the area within the road, tree-line on the left, and the ditch that bisects the property from left to right.
Photo taken on 2/14/22 shows the excavation expanding. Looking SW.
Four days later. 2/18/22. Looking SW toward entrance.
Another three days later, on 2/21/22.
3/22/22 after a 2.26 inch rain.
3/28/22. Looking NE.
4/17/22. Looking SW.
Basin will ultimately expand to green boundary.

About Vendor’s Contract

The stormwater detention basin still has a long way to go before it reaches its ultimate size. HCFCD is excavating it under the terms of an E&R (Excavation and Removal) contract with Sprint Sand and Clay.

Sprint has agreed to remove up to 500,000 Cubic Yards of dirt for only $1,000. However, it has the right to sell the dirt at market rates to make a profit. But the dirt can only elevate structures outside of current floodplains.

Three Months Into Contract, Beating the Minimums

When Perry Homes finished its planned floodwater detention basins, it had enough capacity to hold a hundred year rain as defined by pre-Atlas-14 standards. But capacity fell 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements.

The addition of the new detention basin should take capacity well beyond Atlas-14 requirements and create a safety margin that accommodates additional upstream development.

Excavation under an E&R contract can have ups and downs. When construction booms, excavation moves along quickly. But when construction slows, excavation can, too. However, the contract does have minimum excavation requirement of 10,000 cubic yards per month written into it.

At 36,000 cubic yards after roughly 2.5 months, Sprint exceeds the minimum. But if that rate continues, it could take another four years to reach 500,000 cubic yards.

At some point, the county may choose to step in and pay market rates for excavation to speed things up. But until then, every truckload hauled out of Woodridge Village by Sprint will reduce the ultimate cost.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/18/2022

1693 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Dirt Excavated from Woodridge Being Used to Build Up Laurel Springs RV Resort

Sprint Sand & Clay, the company hired by Harris County Flood Control to excavate 500,000 cubic yards of dirt from Woodridge Village, began hauling some of it to the controversial Laurel Springs RV Resort near Lakewood Cove this morning.

Wake-Up Calls

My phone started blowing up before breakfast with dozens of complaints about Sprint truck traffic. So, I began investigating. I first went to the Woodridge Village site. Drone photos and on-the-ground observations revealed that Sprint was indeed hauling dirt from the Woodridge Village excavation site.

SW corner of Woodridge Village taken Wednesday 2.9.22. Sprint trucks line up to haul off dirt.

I followed one of the trucks all the way to Laurel Springs Lane where I observed it dumping its load. Along the way and at each end, I saw many more Sprint trucks – up to four at a time. There was a veritable parade of dump trucks making round trips along Woodland Hills Drive, Kingwood Drive, Chestnut Ridge, and Laurel Springs Lane.

Orange truck from above enters RV site several minutes later and turns toward detention pond.
The orange truck dumps its load just north of the pond near an area marked as the 500-year floodplain. Other equipment spreads it out.

Will Storm Drains Be Adequate?

Sprint trucks had also dumped dirt near a new “north entrance” to the site.

In the shot above, note the ponding water from 0.2 inches of rain more than a week ago. The contractor’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan describes this soil as “silty sand” to a depth of 18 inches (Page 18).

They may want to recheck that before installing more storm drains.

Other Issues Noted Today

Most trucks that I observed used what has now become the “south” entrance. The fresh load of bullrock laid down days ago has already been covered with mud. That accounts for all the dirt tracked into the street.
While the storm sewers were still unprotected from dirt, at least a street sweeper was onsite today.
Another unprotected storm sewer and contractor taking water from City fire hydrant. Photo courtesy of Robin Seydewitz.
All the dump trucks I observed were this large size, not the kind that holds 10 cubic yards.

Good News/Bad News

The start of serious excavation at Woodridge Village comes as welcome news to the people of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest who flooded twice in 2019. However, it’s equally worrisome to the people of Forest Cove and Lakewood Cove. Many expressed concerns about potential flooding.

Risks from Building Up Land

Should existing residents be concerned about that? Yes, was the answer I got from one respected hydrologist who spoke on condition of anonymity. He likened the built-up area to a berm and said that “You don’t want a berm to stop overland sheet flow.”

The elevation survey shown below comes from the RV park’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. It shows that the land naturally slopes from northeast to southwest. Building up the RV property would definitely prevent water from the NE from flowing in that direction. Sheet flow would divert south along Laurel Springs and put an evacuation route at risk.

Survey shown in developer’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan shows elevation going from 83.1 in the NE to 61.4 in the SW, a difference of more than 20 feet.

East to west along the southern boundary, the elevation drops from 67 feet at Laurel Springs to 61 feet near the railroad tracks.

Another risk is that sheet flow with nowhere else to go could back up Lakewood Cove storm sewers at the same time that the RV park is trying to pump water into them to compensate for its undersized detention pond.

Texas Water Code

Chapter 11.086 of the Texas Water Code covers situations like these.

If someone sustains water damage on their property due to a neighbor’s property, questions as to who may be liable may arise. Surface water runoff — most often caused by excess rainwater — is the common culprit. Texas law holds landowners responsible for damage to neighboring property due to diversion of surface water.

If you find the legal wording in the water code difficult to understand, visit this Texas State Law Library page for resources written in plainer English.

SWPPP Plan Good for Laugh-Out-Loud Moment

I received a copy of the RV Park’s SWPPP plan today from the TCEQ. Parts of it made me laugh out loud. For instance, the section about “Receiving Waters, Wetlands and Special Aquatic Sites” said:

“No existing wetlands or other special aquatic sites have been identified at or near this site [Emphasis added].”

Page 18 of Laurel Springs RV Park SWPPP prepared by Construction Eco Services

Obviously, they didn’t glance across the southern property line or consult the National Wetlands Database. I can’t wait to read the rest of this plan to uncover more gems.

From US Fish & Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory Mapper. The RV Park is going in just above the large green area labelled PF01A Future Edgewater Park.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/9/22

1625 Days since Hurricane Harvey

More Woodridge Village Excavation Started Today

In the afternoon of 1/27/22, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) contractor Sprint Sand & Clay began excavation of additional detention pond capacity on Woodridge Village. Woodridge is the former Perry Homes property implicated in the flooding of Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019. Numerous factors contributed to the flooding. But insufficient detention pond capacity led the pack. The volume excavated by Perry contractors fell about 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements.

Initial Work Will Improve Access

The initial work will improve access to the site. Sprint says it hopes to begin excavation in earnest next week. By comparing the picture and map below, you can see that the task will be immense.

Looking NE at main portion of Woodridge Village Site as excavation of new detention pond begins. It will extend to the pond in the upper right.
Excavation off the green area above will more than double the detention pond capacity on the Woodridge Village Site.

History of Project and Contract Details

In February last year, HCFCD purchased Woodridge Village with the intention of creating additional detention pond capacity. Fast forward to November 2021. HCFCD and Sprint signed an E&R contract. E&R stands for Excavation and Removal. Under the terms of their contract, Sprint Sand & Clay will excavate material as needed.

HCFCD will pay Sprint just $1000 to excavate 500,000 cubic yards. Sprint then has the right to resell the dirt to developers, contractors and road builders at market rates and pocket the profit.

Taxpayers generally like E&R contracts, but anxious homeowners may worry about the “as needed” clause. That can slow work down if market demand falters. Nevertheless, Sprint has an obligation to remove at least 5,000 cubic yards a month. That’s enough to fill 500 dump trucks. In total, they’ll fill 50,000 before the job is done.

Covid Delayed Start

The project could have started in December, but Covid-related absences slowed the contractor. This afternoon, however, the contractor began a) clearing an access road for trucks into the site and b) clearing space for a construction trailer near the excavation. The contractor hopes to begin excavation in earnest next week. But again, they make no guarantees on that point.

Pictures Taken 1/27/22

Regardless, signs of progress are welcome. Here are pictures taken of the project just hours into it.

Sprint began by clearing a two-lane road for their trucks opposite the entrance to the Northpark Recreation Area on Woodland Hills Drive. The company plans to work around the high school’s schedule (upper right).
The company began by clearing an area near the entrance to the largest portion of the site.
Dirt from the initial excavation is being stockpiled near the Woodland Hills entrance opposite Kingwood Park High School for the moment.

The contractor appears to be shuttling dirt from the excavation area toward the entrance. It’s not immediately clear whether that dirt will be used to build up a construction road or hauled offsite.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/27/2022

1612 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Commissioners Approve Excavation Contract for Regional Detention Pond on Taylor Gully

In yesterday’s Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a contract with Spring Sand & Clay LLC for excavation of a regional detention pond on Taylor Gully in Montgomery County at the Woodridge Village site.

Preliminary Engineering Began in Early July

Earlier this year, Harris County purchased Woodridge Village from Perry Homes for this purpose. Currently, engineers are examining several Taylor Gully alternatives.

Woodridge Village
Looking north across Woodridge Village toward Porter from over the Harris/Montgomery County line. The abandoned development currently has five detention ponds that will hold about 60% of the rain in an Atlas-14 100-year storm.

Currently, Idcus, Inc., an engineering company, has been contracted to look at:

  1. Whether existing detention and proposed channel improvements would suffice to mitigate flooding
  2. Whether expanding existing detention would eliminate the need for channel improvements
  3. A combination of the two scenarios above – determining the amount of additional detention and channel improvements necessary to ensure no adverse impact all the way to Lake Houston.
  4. Out-of-the-box alternatives that ensure no adverse impact while maximizing flood mitigation and minimizing construction costs.

The Idcus contract calls for the company to deliver channel and basin layouts for Taylor Gully no later than 300 days from the notice to proceed, which presumably was given in early July. However, excavation could start much sooner than that. (See below.)

Pieces of Puzzle Falling into Place

The no-cost contract with Sprint lets them set their own timetable as long as they complete improvements within three years. Sprint’s timetable will be driven by the company’s ability to sell the material they excavate; that forms their compensation.

The next step is for Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to provide a grading plan to the contractor. While that will not happen tomorrow, the good news is that it won’t require waiting 300 days.

HCFCD can start excavating the retention pond before plans are finalized. After all, it’s not a problem if a detention pond holds more than the minimum required. It’s only a problem if it holds less. Engineers and contractors can adjust plans if necessary after excavation starts. This approach should minimize flood risk for worried Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents.

All the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/21/2021

1422 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Commissioners Vote Tuesday on Contract for Woodridge Village Detention Pond Excavation

Tuesday, 7.20.21, Harris County Commissioners will vote on a contract with Sprint Sand & Clay for excavation of a Woodridge Village detention basin. Item #21-3394 on the agenda is only for $1000, but it gives the contractor the right to enter the site and begin removing up to 500,000 cubic yards of dirt (at no cost to HCFCD) which it can then sell.

Backup provided to commissioners states that “This benefits the District because excavation and removal is always the highest cost of any stormwater detention basin that is constructed.”

Details of Proposed Contract

Here is the full text of the proposed agreement. Highlights include:

  • Amount of excavation TBD – somewhere between 20,000 and 500,000 cubic yards, depending on plans that HCFCD will deliver to the contractor based on the outcome on an engineering study currently underway.
  • The contractor must properly dispose of the spoils, which it is allowed to sell to make its money on the contract.
  • Contractor is liable for any materials that are disposed of improperly, i.e., within Base Flood Elevation or the 500-year flood plain and must identify all disposal locations.
  • Time allowed: 3 years.
  • Termination of contract possible if contractor fails to excavate a minimum average of 5,000 cubic yards every month.
  • Contractor responsible for environmental mitigation if necessary, excluding wetlands.
  • The contractor must provide an approved Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and abide by it.

The contract outline contains the map above but does not specify the exact size, depth or location of the proposed work within the outlined area – just that it will occur in Montgomery County. Engineers will supply additional details at a later date.

Making up for the 60% Solution

Assuming commissioners approve this, it is good news for the people who live who live in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest – indeed, for everyone who lives along Taylor Gully. The detention ponds installed by Perry Homes before they sold the land to Harris County were based on old rainfall statistics and will only hold about 60% of a new 100-year rain defined in Atlas-14.

Looking SE across Woodridge Village toward Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest, areas where hundreds of homes flooded badly in 2019 twice. Photo taken May 26, 2021.

Sprint Sand and Clay is a regular contractor for HCFCD. Currently, the company is excavating the massive Cutten Detention Basin near 290, Beltway 8 and Cutten Road.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/20/21

1421 Days since Hurricane Harvey