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.
Three days later, the pump was still going and the pond was nearly empty.
The ditch between the Preserve and Kingwood Park High School was filled with identically colored water.
Where did all the silty water go?
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
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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.