Tag Archive for: stormwater violations

Developer on WLHP Cited for Stormwater Violations

In response to citizen complaints, Harris County Engineering has visited a construction site on West Lake Houston Parkway three times and issued an unspecified number of stormwater violations.

Both phases of the development, Kingwood Residences HTX and HTX II LLC, are owned by High Street Residential, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Trammell Crow Company in Dallas. Apartments are being built on Phase I. Meanwhile, Phase II is still in the clearing phase.

According to Danielle Cioce, Manager of the County Engineering Department’s Watershed Protection Group, “They are in the process of making the necessary repairs. We will continue to monitor the site to ensure it comes into compliance and remains that way.”

However, as of today, the developer appeared to fall short of compliance. I saw no activity on the portion of the site still being cleared. The reason was unclear. Cioce did not respond to multiple requests for comment today.

Effective Stormwater Measures Still Not in Place

I visited the site myself three times in the last week and have seen few changes since my initial post on this subject two weeks ago in response to a reader complaint.

The developer lacked normal safeguards against sediment escaping from the site, such as silt fences. Neither did the developer have sandbags to catch sediment in street gutters before it entered storm drains.

Such sediment escaping into the San Jacinto West Fork has been connected with flooding in the Lake Houston Area. The Army Corps estimated that the San Jacinto West Fork was 90% blocked near here after Hurricane Harvey.

How much of the sediment in the river is natural and how much man-made? One study found that approximately 30% of sediment pollution is caused by natural erosion, and the remaining 70% is caused by human activity. Construction activity is the most common source of sediment pollution, according to the study.

During a break in the rains last week, I photographed the High Street Residential site on West Lake Houston Parkway. It lies between Upper Lake and Kings Park Way. Without any of the normal safeguards, silty water poured off the site straight into storm sewers.

Photo taken 1/24/24 at West Lake Houston Parkway and Kings Park Way shows silt stormwater escaping into street.
Same day. Slightly different angle shows volume of muck.
Same day. Ground level shot shows runoff streaming into unprotected drain. Note lack of silt fence.
Runoff streamed over curb.
The Army Corps, City, and TWDB recently spent $220 million on dredging the East and West Forks.

What Construction Plans Say Should Happen

I received the approved construction plans from HCFCD via a FOIA Request. They clearly state that contractors should have sediment protection controls in place before starting construction. Regulations also require the contractor to:

  • Document the date of installation of erosion control measures
  • Retain measures in place until permanent stabilization of soil
  • Make field adjustments as needed to maintain the effectiveness of all measures
  • Keep a record of weekly inspections that verify measures are functioning properly.

But that’s not all. See the two screen captures below from the construction plans.

Photos Taken 1/29/24 Show Aftermath of Last Week’s Rain

I returned to the site today, two and a half days after the rain stopped. Water was down slightly, but contractors still had not installed effective stormwater control measures.

Silt fence was missing. So were sandbags to guard the storm drains. In some places where silt fence had been installed, it had fallen over from the weight of runoff accumulated behind it. In other places sediment had collected knee-high to the top of the silt fences. See below.

Silt fence guarding the stormwater detention basin overwhelmed by eroded sediment. This suggests volume of runoff in other areas without silt fence.
Phase I has no silt fence along most of the perimeter. Shown here: construction in progress along Upper Lake is guarded by a chain-link fence.

The developer had installed sandbags in a gap in the silt fence, but left gaps in the line of sandbags.

Note gaps in silt fence toward corner. That faint line guarding the corner is a line of sandbags. But…

The gaps channeled stormwater straight toward the storm drain in the first sequence of photos. See below.

Enlargement from previous photo shows gaps in line that channeled runoff toward street drains.

Accidental or intentional. You be the judge.

Someone will have to spend a lot of time in the “how come” room on this one.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/29/24

2344 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.