Tag Archive for: subsidence

Jace Houston Resigns as SJRA General Manager Under Pressure from Subsidence Deniers

Jace Houston, the San Jacinto River Authority’s (SJRA) General Manager and point person on subsidence issues, resigned yesterday, 5/25/23, to avert a political war with Montgomery County subsidence deniers that could have taken down the entire SJRA board.

Houston had been with the SJRA for 16 years after spending 10 years with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District. While at the SJRA, the lawyer/engineer helped put together a Groundwater Reduction Plan that included 80 municipalities and municipal utility districts (MUDs) across Montgomery County. He also helped the SJRA construct a surface-water treatment plant on Lake Conroe.

Goals of Effort to Preserve Groundwater

The half-billion dollar plant supplies surface water to the major population centers in Montgomery County, such as Conroe, The Woodlands and Oak Ridge North. Converting the population centers to surface water preserved groundwater for less populated and rural areas where water pipelines become uneconomical.

When the plant came online in 2015, it also virtually neutralized subsidence (see below).

When The Woodlands began using more surface water in 2016 after completion of a surface water pipeline, the rate of subsidence virtually leveled off.

The groundwater preservation effort proved effective at eliminating subsidence. It also helped water utilities avoid major costs associated with declining aquifer levels.

What costs? When water levels in wells drop, suppliers must move pumps deeper and use more electricity to pump water to the surface. In extreme cases, utilities may not be able to get water to the surface at all. Then they must drill new wells, often into deeper aquifers at hefty costs.

Declining well levels are especially worrisome in drought years when/where no alternative sources of water are available. Lack of water can limit population and economic growth as well as agricultural production.

However, preserving groundwater came at a cost. All members of the plan paid a fee to help pay for the surface water treatment plant even if they didn’t buy water from it. The need for such a plan became apparent more than 20 years ago, long before Houston joined the SJRA.

Need to Use Less Groundwater Validated by Legislature, But…

The Texas Leglislature validated the need to use less groundwater when it created the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) in 2001.

But in recent years, all that was forgotten. The LSGCD board denied subsidence was a problem and advocated unlimited groundwater pumping as a way to lower water costs.

In the meantime, subsidence has returned. So have water well declines.

As you can see below, since the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District began moving to deregulate groundwater usage, well levels have dropped significantly across the county, setting up a day of reckoning in the future.

Water-level changes in representative area wells. Source: Harris-Galveston Subsidence District 2022 Annual Groundwater Report.

A Shot Across the Bow of the Board

Undeterred by these signals, the City of Conroe and the LSGCD board took their fight to the state legislature. They got State Representative Will Metcalf of Conroe to propose an amendment to the SJRA Sunset Review Bill that would replace Jace Houston. The amendment passed and emboldened Metcalf, Conroe and the LSGCD.

The amended bill then went to the Senate Water, Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee where the Conroe/LSGCD contingent testified again. But Senator Charles Perry, the committee chair, talked his fellow members out of adopting their proposals.

However, during the committee debate, Senator Lois Kolkorst, who represents Magnolia, fired a shot across the bow of the SJRA. She suggested making SJRA board-member terms one year.

That would have been disastrous, according to one seasoned SJRA board member, “It takes a year just to learn the job,” he said.

After defeat of all suggested amendments in Perry’s committee, it didn’t take long for back-channel rumors to mushroom. A whisper campaign suggested that sympathetic senator(s) might offer the Metcalf amendment or a one-year board amendment when the bill came up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Within days, the SJRA called a special board meeting to discuss Houston’s employment. While Houston reportedly had many supporters on the SJRA Board, he ultimately chose to resign and avoid a political battle royal that could have damaged the SJRA.

Board Accepts Houston’s Resignation

An article in Community Impact quoted SJRA Board President Ronald Anderson as saying: “At today’s meeting, the SJRA board of directors received and reluctantly accepted a resignation letter from our general manager, Jace Houston. Jace has served with honor and distinction for almost 16 years and has made the SJRA one of the most respected water agencies in the state of Texas.”

Anderson continued, “Even through these recent circumstances involving the legislature, Jace has once again placed the best interests of our organization and customers above his own, and the board wishes him the best in his future endeavors, which we know will be marked by continued success.”

Houston will remain at the SJRA until June 30th. But even on his way out the door, he seems less concerned about his own future than Montgomery County’s water future.

Impact of LSGCD on Water Future of MoCo and More

When asked about the impact of the LSGCD moves, Houston predicted, “They’re not going to regulate the aquifers. They’re going to allow pumpage to increase significantly.”

Houston added, “A lot of great work has been done to put a program together that allows Montgomery County to be able to afford the future water supplies it needs. And all of that is at risk. This just puts the county’s future at risk. They don’t understand the science. LSGCD is just dead wrong on the science.”

Because aquifers flow toward the coast, depleting groundwater in Montgomery County affects Harris and Galveston communities as well. But Metcalf and the LSGCD board never seemed to consider the impact on neighboring counties even though Metcalf’s district represents only about one thirtieth of the population in the San Jacinto watershed.

Because of differential subsidence, the impact of unlimited groundwater pumping in southern Montgomery County could actually tilt Lake Houston toward the north. That’s because the Kingwood/Porter area would subside more than the Lake Houston Dam by about two feet. And that could put many homes near floodplains into floodplains.

Projected subsidence in the northern Lake Houston Area could be 3.25 feet.
subsidence in Harris County
Meanwhile, projected subsidence at the Lake Houston Dam would only be 1.25 feet.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) should release new, updated models later this year that could affect the rates shown approve (plus or minus).

In the meantime, for anyone who doubts the relationship between water-well declines and subsidence, USGS has published a 432-page scientific report on the subject based on 120 years of data from northeast Texas aquifers.

Houston’s resignation seems to have averted a San Jacinto showdown for now. But some fear this fight isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the Swamp Sinks.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/26/2023

2096 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.

Amendment to H.B. 1540 Could Force Changes in SJRA Management

H.B. 1540 passed in the Texas House on Friday, April 28, 2023. The bill concerns recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission affecting the board of the SJRA.

However, Representative Will Metcalf from Conroe offered a last-minute amendment from the House floor that would effectively fire Jace Houston, the SJRA’s general manager, who reports to the board. The amendment has the potential to upset the delicate balance between upstream and downstream interests mandated by the Governor after Harvey.

The senate version of the bill does not include Metcalf’s amendment. So, this fight isn’t over yet.

Let me cover the bill, the amendment, and implications in that order.

Key Provisions of H.B. 1540

The House analysis summarizes key provisions of H.B. 1540. It revises provisions governing SJRA. It implements – across-the-board – all Sunset Advisory Commission policy recommendations relating to the following:

  • Gubernatorial designation of the presiding officer of SJRA’s board of directors;
  • Specific grounds for removal of a board member;
  • Board member training;
  • Separation of the board’s policy-making responsibilities and the staff’s management responsibilities;
  • Maintenance of complaint information; and
  • Public testimony at board meetings.

The bill also provides for the transition to the new training requirements for current board members. Significantly, it also adds an additional member to SJRA’s board of directors, decreases the length of a member’s term from six years to four years, and provides for the transition to this new membership and term length.

H.B. 1540 would require at least four of the seven SJRA board members to reside in Montgomery County.

H.B. 1540 requires SJRA’s board of directors to develop and implement a comprehensive policy that provides a structure for public engagement in advance of major actions and projects. The policy must include a clear and detailed description of how SJRA will seek to actively engage stakeholders, including the possible use of the following:

  • Advisory committees;
  • Community panels;
  • Town hall meetings;
  • Surveys;
  • Other strategies on a recurring basis.

General-Manager Amendment

After the bill was voted out of the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Metcalf offered an amendment on the House floor that surprised Committee Chair Tracy King.

Rep. Will Metcalf
Rep. Metcalf from Conroe

The terse amendment requires that the board appoint a new SJRA General Manager within 30 days who hasn’t been employed by the SJRA as general manager within the last six months. It’s a dagger in Jace Houston’s back.

Chairman King spoke against the amendment, but in the end voted for the bill. King stated that the amendment tried to usurp the Governor’s authority. He pointed out that the Governor appoints the board and that the board hires the general manager. The legislature should not get in the middle of that, he said.

Why Try to Fire Houston?

During Metcalf’s testimony, he complained bitterly about SJRA’s:

  • Water rates
  • Groundwater reduction plan
  • Water treatment plant
  • Insistence that the City of Conroe uphold its SJRA contract
  • Seasonal-lowering policy of Lake Conroe that protects downstream residents
  • Battles with the Lonestar Groundwater Conservation District over subsidence.

As SJRA General Manager, Jace Houston has played a prominent role in all these controversies.

Let’s Go to the Videotape!

If you want to watch how this debate unfolded, here’s a link to the Texas House proceedings on H.B. 1540 and Metcalf’s amendment.

  • Discussion starts around 2:27:15.
  • Rep. Metcalf introduces his amendment at 2:28:20.
  • Chairman King raises a point of order against the amendment at 2:29:10. He says the amendment is not germane to the subject of the bill. Then there’s a long break in the action while they confer on the point of order.
  • At 2:41:10, discussion resumes. King has withdrawn his point of order and rises to speak in opposition to the amendment. Metcalf follows him. Then they hold a vote. The bill passes with the amendment.
  • At 2:47:50, discussion moves to the next bill.

Amended Bill Overwhelmingly Passes, But…

The House bill passed with 145 Yeas, 2 Nays, and 1 Present but not voting. However…

Four days earlier, on 4/24/23, the Senate passed S.B. 2586, an identical companion bill (minus the Metcalf amendment). It’s now in King’s House Natural Resources Committee.

That means the bill could go to a conference committee to iron out the difference and find a compromise. Then the House, Senate or both will have to vote on it again. Exactly one month remains in this session.

In the meantime, you can bet heavy-duty politicking will happen in Austin.

What’s Next? 

Does the Senate have the appetite to engage in a local water war this late in session? 

Will Senator Brandon Creighton whose district now includes Lake Conroe intervene?

Will Jace Houston fight to stay? Or will he throw in the towel? 

Is Metcalf trying to scare the SJRA into concessions?

Will the Governor weigh in? Stay tuned.  

San Jacinto River Basin

The San Jacinto river basin encompasses more than 5,000 square miles and 6.4 million people in 11 counties.

Yet Representative Metcalf seems concerned with only a small portion of them. Montgomery County has a tenth of that population in only a 1,000 square miles. And Metcalf represents only part of Montgomery County and a third of its population. Yet Mr. Metcalf seems to want to manage the SJRA for the benefit of 1 out of every 30 people in the watershed.

Last session, he introduced a bill that would have prohibited any downstream representation on the SJRA board. Luckily, it failed.

The San Jacinto river basin is much larger than Conroe, Metcalf, and his district.

That point seems to have eluded everyone who voted for Metcalf’s amendment. I hope calmer minds prevail.

Had this vote happened after Harvey, I think few would have defended the SJRA or Jace Houston. But since then, I have seen a concerted effort to find balance between upstream and downstream interests, as the Governor directed.

Metcalf’s amendment could potentially tilt the balance back upstream, the way it was before Harvey. We just don’t know. The uncertainty worries me. Will we be saying goodbye to lake lowering and hello to more subsidence?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/29/2023

2069 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.

MoCo District Judge Slams Door on Subsidence Deniers

In a devastating ruling for Quadvest, L.P., and Woodland Oaks Utility, L.P., John Delaney, visiting judge in the 284th District Court in Montgomery County, rejected their pre-trial arguments and granted a summary judgment that validated the San Jacinto River Authority’s Groundwater Reduction Plan (GRP) contract. Both Quadvest and Woodland Oaks have been subsidence deniers in the past.

The key to reducing subsidence in Montgomery County. SJRA water treatment plant at Lake Conroe Dam. Image courtesy of SJRA.

The only question now is whether the SJRA’s water rates are fair. However, Jace Houston, SJRA general manager, points out that SJRA makes no profit from selling water and that the defendants have cost the river authority more than $12.7 million by withholding contractual payments due under the GRP contract.

Other signers of the contract who did not contest it have had to pick up the slack for Quadvest and Woodland Oaks, placing an unfair burden on them. Both companies are private companies that pump groundwater in Montgomery County.

Excessive groundwater production in Montgomery County has been linked to subsidence and flooding there and in Harris County.

Content of Rulings

In a terse, one paragraph order, the judge ruled that the arguments, pleadings, papers and evidence of Quadvest and Woodland Oaks should be denied under applicable law. Delaney signed the order on December 16th, 2022.

In a separate order on the same day, Judge Delaney ruled on the defendant’s defenses. Quadvest and Woodland Oaks claimed:

  • Lack of consideration
  • Failure of consideration
  • Fraud
  • Illegality
  • Mutual Mistake

In the second order, the Judge simply stated that those defenses were DENIED.

The order concluded, “The Court has determined as a matter of law that “SJRA’s GRP Contracts are incontestable, valid, and enforceable according to their terms.”

Why Contract is Incontestable

State law makes it clear that when a contract is signed that relates to a bond offering and which has been approved by the State Attorney General, the contract is incontestable. In this case, the SJRA issued $550 million of bonds and the Texas Attorney General approved the contract.

SJRA used the bonds to build its surface water treatment plant on Lake Conroe and a distribution system. The distribution system also required acquiring rights of way.

“Consideration” received by the 80 entities signing the contract included:

Quadvest and Woodland Oaks claimed they received no consideration because LSGCD had since changed its rules after the current Board became elected in 2018 – thanks in large part to major contributions by Quadvest.

The goal of reducing groundwater usage was an attempt by suppliers in the region to reduce subsidence.

Since 2020, Quadvest and Woodlands Oaks have refused to pay the rate due under the contract, but have continued to charge their customers as if they are abiding by the contracted amount. 

Jace Houston, SJRA general manager, points out that the defendants had 30 other groundwater reduction plans they could have joined back in 2010 (when the contract went into effect) if they felt they weren’t getting fair consideration.

Subsidence reduced, then leveled off for several years after the contract. However, it is now accelerating again thanks to virtually unlimited groundwater pumping by Quadvest and others.

Second Lawsuit Still Winding its Way Through Courts

Although the ruling applied only to Quadvest and Woodland Oaks, it also has implications for two other entities, the Cities of Magnolia and Conroe.

Both signed the SJRA GRP contract. And both withhold payments. Magnolia is currently $800,000 in arrears and Conroe owes $15.8 million. With Quadvest and Woodland Oaks, that brings the total owed to the SJRA up to $29.3 million.

However, Magnolia and Conroe are not making the same claims as the two private entities. They claim “governmental immunity.”

Interestingly, the attorney general is worried about such claims BETWEEN governmental entities. If for some reason a judge allows the claim, a high percentage of regional water supply contracts in the State of Texas could become unenforceable, according to Mr. Houston. As a result, the Texas Water Development Board has stopped making loans and grants to entities in breach of such contracts. Interestingly, of the 80 parties signing the SJRA GRP contract, virtually half are governmental entities of some sort.

Next Steps

“Quadvest and others have tried for years to cloud the issues and confuse the public about the GRP Contracts, and today all of that has been put to rest,” said Mr. Houston.  “Decisions up to this point have been on pre-trial matters such as jurisdiction and venue. We are pleased to have a ruling on the merits that declares the GRP contracts valid and incontestable in any court.”

“Any further proceedings in Montgomery County should only be to verify that the rates are reasonable,” said Houston. “We look forward to presenting to the court how SJRA takes great care to prepare a very conservative and reasonable budget, and charge rates that are ultimately voted on by our customers.”

Judge Delaney’s rulings, though not directly on the subject of subsidence, have the potential to impact it. Without a financial incentive by companies like Quadvest to deny subsidence, perhaps the LSGCD board will quit trying to deny it, too.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/21/2022

1940 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.

New UH Study Finds Subsidence Increasing in Houston Suburbs

A hot-spot analysis of subsidence in the Houston metro area during the period from 2016 to 2020 revealed total subsidence of up to 9 centimeters in some areas. Rates of subsidence approached 2 cm per year. (Two centimeters equals 0.8 inches. Nine centimeters = 3.54 inches.)

The scientific study, named “Surface Deformation Analysis of the Houston Area Using Time Series Interferometry and Emerging Hot Spot Analysis” appeared in a scientific journal called Remote Sensing. Authors included Shuhab D. Khan, Otto C. A. Gadea, Alyssa Tello Alvarado and Osman A. Tirmizi from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston.

Correlating InSAR Data with Well Data

The authors correlated observations of surface deformation using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data with an analysis of 71,000 water and and 5,000 oil-and-gas wells in the Houston area. They collected the InSAR data over 5 years and the well data going back 31 years.

USGS calls InSAR an effective way to measure changes in land-surface altitude. The images are compiled by using radar signals with a very high degree of resolution bounced off Earth from orbiting satellites. By measuring the time for the signals to travel to earth and back, researches can measure altitude. And by superimposing images taken at different times, researchers can measure changes in altitude over time.

Documenting Link between Subsidence and Groundwater Pumping

Khan and his team sought to determine how much groundwater pumping contributed to subsidence (sinking ground). They performed the same analysis for oil and gas pumping.

The researchers found the greatest subsidence – which had not been previously reported – in some of the region’s fast-growing suburbs – Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, Fresno and Mont Belvieu. They identified groundwater pumping as the primary cause in the first four, and oil and gas pumping as the primary cause in Mont Belvieu.

From the study published as an open access article and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Otto Gadea, a graduate student from Khan’s team is quoted in Phys.org as saying, “We determined for the suburbs that excessive groundwater extraction appears to be the primary driver of subsidence.”

Population Growth Drives Groundwater Pumping

With population growth, groundwater extraction has become more prevalent in the Houston area. But subsidence is no longer substantial in areas that regulate it through entities such as the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District.

The Appearance of Regulation as Cover for Private Interests

Other counties have set up entities to regulate ground water withdrawal, such as the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) in Montgomery County. However, the elected board chose not to include a subsidence limit in its desired future conditions. Many of the board members were backed by money from Quadvest, the area’s largest private groundwater pumper.

Website’s such as StopOurSinking.com have long linked excessive groundwater pumping in Montgomery County with a host of issues ranging from subsidence, flooding, pavement breaks, and foundation shifting to pipeline problems. However, the LSGCD Board has cherry-picked scientific evidence that supports unlimited groundwater pumping.

This latest study by the UH team will make that harder. It validates many of the claims StopOurSinking has made for years. Khan’s team even concluded that subsidence may even cause fault movement in the area.

Link to Fault Movement, Too

“If current ground pumping trends continue, faults in Katy and The Woodlands will likely become reactivated and increase in activity over time,” the authors write. No seismic activity is reported along these faults yet they say. They believe the movement is happening by “aseismic creep.” However, Khan and his team found evidence of fault activity in “damages to roads, buildings and other infrastructure in the vicinity of these faults. Displacement along some is measured by up to 3 cm/year.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/12/22

1870 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.

August Flood Digest: Brief Summaries of Nine Items in the News

Here’s a short digest of nine flood-related items in the news this month.

Fifth Anniversary of Harvey

This month marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact day for Harvey. The system moved off of Africa on August 13, 2017. It became a tropical storm on the 17th; moved into the Gulf on the 22nd; became a Cat 4 hurricane; and made landfall at Port Aransas on the 25th. The outer bands reached Harris County on the 26th.

Harvey dumped heavy rain over Houston for four days. It started moving back offshore on the 29th and 30th. Ninety percent of the river forecast points in southeast Texas reached flood stage; forty-six percent reached new record levels. Harvey dumped more rain than any storm in the history of North America. For more information, see the Hurricane Harvey tab on the Reports Page.

West Fork San Jacinto During Harvey. Looking NE toward Kingwood from the Townsend Park N Ride.

New SJRA Director From Lake Conroe

Most flooding in the Lake Houston Area during Harvey happened after the SJRA started releasing 79,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) from Lake Conroe to save homes there. Many Lake-Houston-Area residents blamed the absence of downstream representation on the SJRA board for what they saw as disregard for their property.

After touring the extensive damage by helicopter, Governor Abbott appointed two Lake-Houston-Area residents (Kaaren Cambio and Mark Micheletti) to the seven-person board. Cambio later resigned to avoid a conflict of interest when she joined Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s staff. Last month, the Governor appointed a Lake Conroe resident to fill her vacancy, Stephanie Johnson. That now leaves Micheletti as the lone downstream representative.

Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Elections

Sometimes it seems that the main requirements for membership on the LSGCD board are half a brain, a willingness to kiss Simon Sequiera’s ring and indifference to science. Sequiera owns Quadvest, the largest private groundwater pumping company in Montgomery County. And excessive groundwater pumping in MoCo has been linked to subsidence and flooding. But concerned citizens will have a chance to take back the LSGCD board from a slate of directors backed by Sequiera. The deadline for applying is August 22. This page on the LSGCD site is all about the election and how to file if you are interested.

Edgewater Park

Harris County Precinct 3 is trying to jumpstart the development of Edgewater Park at 59 and the San Jacinto West Fork. The county has stated it is hiring a new consultant to re-design the park and that construction could begin 1 to 2 years from now. Quiddity Engineering will get the nod. The project will provide a boat launch, an additional park for the Humble/Kingwood Area, and a connection to the Spring Creek Greenway hike and bike trail. Quiddity’s contract will cover design, engineering, and other pre-construction expenses. Quiddity is the new name for Jones and Carter.

Houston Planning & Development Department News

The Planning and Development Department has a new initiative called Livable Places. The objective: create more housing options for Houstonians. The four options they visualize all increase housing density and impervious cover. I wrote them asking, “Won’t that increase flooding?” In essence, they said, “But it may help other places stay green.” True. But that’s not going to help flooding in the City much. Wasn’t our Drainage Fee designed to provide an incentive to REDUCE impervious cover. Oh well. These are different times. Can we get our drainage fees back now?

Flood Tunnels

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) released Phase 2 of its $30 billion flood tunnel study last month – along with a recommendation to study the recommendations in more detail. The current plan for Phase 3 is to spend the next 4-6 months:

  • Working with the Army Corps to explore possible federal involvement
  • Scoping the Phase 3 study
  • Beginning procurement.

HCFCD hopes to start Phase 3 in early 2023. Said Scott Elmer, P.E. CFM and Assistant Director of Operations for HCFCD, “We expect it to take approximately 3 years to complete.” For the complete Phase 2 study, click here.

GLO HARP Program Deadline

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced that applications for its Homeowner Assistance and Reimbursement Program (HARP) will close at 5 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2022. Those include applications for repairs/rebuilds from Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019. To be eligible, you must submit applications by the deadline … unless funding runs out first. So hurry. 

The program includes repair or reconstruction of owner-occupied single-family homes and reimbursement up to $50,000 for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred for reconstruction, rehabilitation, or mitigation. Repayment of SBA loans is also eligible for reimbursement.

The GLO has $71,604,000 to help residents of Harris, Chambers, Liberty, Jefferson, Montgomery, Orange, and San Jacinto counties. HARP is only available for a primary residences, not second homes. Interested homeowners should visit recovery.texas.gov/harp to apply online or download an application.

Harris County Attrition and Pay Reports

As reported in April, the loss of employees and managers in dozens of Harris County departments has created a brain drain that impacts delivery of county services. On Tuesday, 8/2/22, Commissioners considered two related reports. The first had to do with attrition. The second had to do with pay and benefits.

Commissioners did not discuss the first, but they did discuss the second at length. They also voted unanimously to have the Office of Management and Budget investigate pay disparities. Certain commissioners wanted to apply equity guidelines to low-paid employees and freeze pay for those making more. I didn’t hear the words “Pay for Performance” once during the discussion.

In the end, commissioners recommended having HR create a job architecture, pay structure, and new evaluations that would determine pay increases or freezes. More in future posts.

New Bond Package

Discussion of a new $1.2 billion bond package consumed the last 90 minutes of commissioners court this week. The County Administrator still cannot say where the money is actually needed. Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis want to apply equity guidelines to this bond. And neither wants to say which projects they would spend the money on. Garcia even threatened in a previous meeting that Republican-leaning precincts would not get ANY of the money if their commissioners voted NO on the bond.

When Hidalgo suggested guidelines for distribution of the money, Garcia stomped out of the meeting. He later reluctantly agreed to a split that would give his precinct and Ellis’ $380 million each while Republican precincts would get only $220 million each.

During the debate, it came out that much of the money from the 2015 bond program still has not been spent. That raised the question, “Why do we need another bond?”

Bragging About Trickery on One Bond While Pitching Another

Also, Commissioner Rodney Ellis publicly bragged that he purposefully didn’t define “equity” in the 2018 flood bond. “It was side language,” he said. “It was not in the language that was on the ballot, but that was the side agreement we agreed to.”

Ellis later said, “Those poor neighborhoods are the ones who have gotten the short end of the process.” But the HCFCD July flood-bond update shows that Halls, Greens, White Oak, Brays and Hunting Bayou Watersheds have received $400 million out of the $1 billion spent to date from the flood bond. Twenty percent of the watersheds are getting 40% of the money. Short end?

I personally don’t plan to vote for another bond until I start seeing some benefit from the last two. Especially when there’s no guarantee how, where or on what the money will be spent. To me, this looks like a $1.2 billion dollar slush fund for Garcia and Ellis.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/6/22

1803 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.

Top Stories of 2021 in Review

Below are my personal picks for the top flood-mitigation stories of 2021.

The Fight for Funding

In 2019, Commissioners Court established “equity” guidelines that prioritized projects in Low-to-Moderate Income watersheds. Then this year:

Still no word from HUD on a possible direct allocation of $750 million. We may hear in January.

To help you follow this story, I make quarterly FOIA requests for Harris County Flood Control District spending and post the analyses on a dedicated funding page.

Sand-Mining Best Management Practices

Activists led by the Lake Houston Area Flood Prevention Initiative and the Bayou Land Conservancy petitioned the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to establish best management practices for sand mines in the San Jacinto watershed. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got a vast improvement over what we had. And the new BMPs may help reduce erosion that contributes to future floods in this area.

West Fork Sand Mine illustrates need for vegetative controls to reduce erosion.

Relentless Development

Fueled by low interest rates and flight from city crowds during Covid, suburban and rural development surged in 2021. Flood-mitigation felt like an afterthought in many developments. We saw that with Colony Ridge in Liberty County. Colony Ridge clearcut wetlands, paved over floodplains and ignored county regs designed to reduce erosion.

In the Kingwood Area, the Laurel Springs RV resort took advantage of a grandfathering clause in permitting to build a detention pond one-half the size of current requirements. These represent just two examples of many.

The Laurel Springs RV Resort got its detention pond approved one day before stiffer regs went into effect.

After Harvey, we saw how such practices made flooding worse. How soon we forget!

Houston Housing and Community Development Meltdown

Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department, which was responsible for distributing more than a billion dollars in Harvey disaster relief funds, came unglued again this year. Last year, it sued the Texas General Land Office to keep money it couldn’t give away. This year, the Department’s Director publicly denounced the Mayor of Houston for trying to steer multi-family housing subsidies to the Mayor’s former law partner. The Mayor claimed ignorance of the partner’s involvement and announced a City Attorney investigation which never materialized.

Meanwhile, flood victims were victimized a second time. Bureaucratic bungling denied aid to people who deserved it.

World War II And Lake Houston Gates

May 9, 2021, was 1349 days after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas and the Gulf Coast. That’s the number of days it took the US and its allies to win World War II. But during that time we’ve had few victories in the fight against future flooding in the Lake Houston Area with the exception of dredging, So far, we’ve mainly completed studies. And many of those are still in the works.

For instance, the City of Houston has been studying ways to increase the release capacity of the Lake Houston Dam. Right now, the release capacity is one-fifteenth that of the gates on Lake Conroe. That makes it difficult to shed water quickly before and during floods. FEMA gave the City money to study the problem, but is still finalizing recommendations. The City hopes to make an announcement in January.


The Lake Conroe Association had its lawsuit against the SJRA thrown out of court…with prejudice. The LCA hoped to prohibit the SJRA’s policy of seasonal lake lowering, which was designed to help protect the Lake Houston Area until other flood mitigation efforts could be put in place.

The Texas Attorney General is still suing the Triple PG Sand Mine in Porter on behalf of the TCEQ. There has been little movement on the case in the last 18 months. The mine’s owner changed legal counsel in July 2020. A TCEQ representative says the AG has not given up. The two sides are still in discovery.

Approximately 1700 homeowners in the Lake Houston Area sued sand mines for contributing to flooding during Harvey. The cases were consolidated in the 281st Harris County District Court under Judge Sylvia Matthews. She recently set deadlines in the first half of next year for motions, depositions, joinder, expert witness testimony and more. The case is known as “Harvey Sand Litigation.”

Various lawsuits against the SJRA for flooding during Harvey are still working their way through the legal system.

Kingwood residents reached a settlement with Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors this year over two floods that damaged hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest during 2019. The incidents had to do with development of Woodridge Village, just across the Harris/Montgomery County line.

Woodridge Village

Harris County Flood Control District purchased Woodridge Village from Perry Homes in February this year and hired a contractor to begin doubling the current floodwater-detention capacity on the site. When complete, the additional capacity will help protect homes in Elm Grove, North Kingwood Forest and downstream along Taylor Gully.

Expansion of Dredging

After three and a half years of dredging in the San Jacinto West Fork, dredging has now moved to the East Fork. State Representative Dan Huberty secured $50 million earlier this year to extend the dredging program to other inlets around Lake Houston in the future.

East Fork Dredging. Photographed in early December between Huffman and Royal Shores in Kingwood. Looking south toward Lake Houston.

Bens Branch and Taylor Gully Cleanouts

In Kingwood, HCFCD finished excavating both Bens Branch and Taylor Gully to help restore their conveyance. Through gradual sediment built up, both had been gradually reduced to a 2-year level of service in places. That means they would come out of their banks after a 2-year rain.

Final phase of Bens Branch maintenance between Kingwood Drive and Rocky Woods. Note Kingwood High School in upper right.


Years of fighting over subsidence between the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District and Groundwater Management Area 14 came to a head earlier this year. LSGCD fought any mention of subsidence in Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) for Montgomery County. GMA-14 wanted to include it, but finally recommended allowing each groundwater conservation district to make a subsidence measure optional. Unlimited groundwater pumping in southern Montgomery County could tilt Lake Houston toward homes at the northern end of the lake. That’s because subsidence would be greater there than at the Lake Houston Dam by TWO FEET.

GMA-14 will take a final vote on January 5 on the final DFCs. You still have time to protest.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/31/2021

1585 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Flood Digest: Updates on TWDB Grants, Affordable Housing Investigations, Subsidence

Below are updates on three items recently in the news: Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Grants, Affordable Housing Investigations, and Subsidence.

Texas Water Development Board Grants Affecting Houston Region

Last week, I posted a story about flood mitigation assistance grants being considered by the TWDB. The Houston region qualified for eight and the TWDB approved them all…unanimously. However, the checks aren’t in the mail yet.

TWDB approved the following subject to FEMA final approval:

  • 32 structures in Houston, Jersey Village, Pearland and Taylor Lake Village will receive financial assistance for elevating structures.
  • 1421 structures in Bear Creek Village (near Addicks Reservoir and Highway 6) will see their drainage improved by Harris County Flood Control District HCFCD).
  • 61 repetitive loss structures will be bought out by HCFCD.
  • 1 hotel with a severe repetitive loss history dating back to 1979 will also be bought out by HCFCD.
  • 40 repetitive-loss structures in Montgomery County will also be bought out.

FEMA requested more information for further review on each project. So when/if FEMA gives final approval to each of the above, they should be good to go. That usually happens by January.

Texas projects considered for further review by FEMA

Clear Lake Apartment Complex Recommended by Mayor

On September 21, the former director of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) turned whistleblower and accused the mayor of recommending a multi-family housing deal in Clear Lake that was not in taxpayers’ best interests. It turns out the Mayor’s former law partner would have benefited by $15 million from the deal, but the department’s recommendations would have provided four times more affordable housing for essentially the same amount of money.

That ignited a firestorm in the media and on City Council. HUD, GLO, the County Attorney, and the City Attorney (with the help of two US Attorneys) and City Council are all investigating.

In the face of this withering onslaught, the Houston Chronicle today reported that the Mayor has dropped his recommendation to back his former law partner’s project in Clear Lake. The Mayor said he didn’t want it to become a “distraction.”

However, getting the genie back in the bottle may not be that simple. Since the Clear Lake deal imploded on September 22, 2021, more allegations of financial mismanagement arose in City Council last week.

Also this afternoon, investigative journalist Wayne Dolcefino issued a press release about a Federal lawsuit he filed. It alleges a cover-up at the Houston Housing Authority on other housing deals that appear to be linked to the same players Tom McCasland and the Mayor.

This has the stink of Watergate about it.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at Kingwood’s last town hall meeting in October of 2018.

GMA-14 Makes Subsidence DFC Optional

For several years now, the state’s Groundwater Management Area 14 (GMA-14) in southeast Texas has struggled to define Desired Future Conditions (DFCs). These are long-term goals that address groundwater conservation and the maximum amount of subsidence allowable.

The Lonestar Groundwater Conservation District has denied subsidence exists in Montgomery County and stonewalled efforts to include a subsidence metric in DFCs.

Going into a board meeting last week, GMA 14 had proposed DFCs that read:

In each county in GMA 14, no less than 70 percent median available drawdown remaining in 2080 and no more than an average of 1.0 additional foot of subsidence between 2009 and 2080.

Initial DFCs

However, days before the final vote on this statement, State Senator Robert Nichols, intervened. He wrote a letter to each of GMA-14’s groundwater conservation district leaders “urging” them to make the subsidence metric optional. At that point, the debate ended. The final DFCs adopted by GMA-14 read:

In each county in Groundwater Management Area 14, no less than 70 percent median available drawdown remaining in 2080 or no more than an average of 1.0 additional foot of subsidence between 2009 and 2080. 

Final DFCs

This “opt-out option” defeats the purpose of even having a GMA and a subsidence metric.

This revised statement was quietly approved on October 5, 2021. At its January 5, 2022, meeting, GMA-14 will approve the report that accompanies the DFCs when they are submitted to the TDWB.

Of the five groundwater conservation districts in GMA-14, four voted for the new DFCs and one abstained. The new DFCs will likely be challenged in court by areas threatened by subsidence.

Makeup of Groundwater Management Area 14

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/11/2021

1504 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.

Last Chance to Fight Subsidence: Comment Now

On Friday, July 23, 2021 – one week from today – the public comment period will close on the proposed Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) for the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District. DFCs represent goals for preserving a percentage of groundwater for future generations and preventing subsidence. A contentious debate has raged for years between those who profit from the pumping of cheap groundwater and those whose property will be damaged by the subsidence it causes.

Subsidence Caused by Excessive Groundwater Pumping

Subsidence is a sinking of property relative to others around it. Unlimited pumping removes the water under homes and businesses that helps to prop them up. When the water is removed, it can create a bowl in the landscape and contribute to flooding.

The Woodlands has already experienced this, where a “graben” is developing between two fault lines. Graben is a geologic term meaning “a block of the earth’s crust between two faults displaced downward relative to the blocks on either side.” Such displacement can damage streets, bridges, pipelines, driveways, foundations and homes.

Modeling has shown that subsidence could cause more than 3.5 feet of sinking in southern and eastern Montgomery County, growing population centers where groundwater pumping is greatest. Subsidence is already a serious concern in The Woodlands where it has triggered faults.

Predicted subsidence in Montgomery County if Lone Star allows the pumping of 115,000 acre-feet per year.

Conflict Between GMA-14 and Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District

Years ago, Texas established Groundwater Management areas to bind the people of a region together, and ensure that public interests outweigh the self-interest of a few powerful people. GMA-14 covers most of southeast Texas. It includes five groundwater conservation districts, comprising 20 counties.

GMA-14’s Proposed DFCs

GMA-14 has debated its next set of desired future conditions (DFCs) since 2016. At its last meeting, members finally adopted the following statement. 

In each county in GMA 14, no less than 70 percent median available drawdown remaining in 2080 and no more than an average of 1.0 additional foot of subsidence between 2009 and 2080.

GMA-14 Desired Future Conditions 

Click here for the full text surrounding the DFCs. 

Let’s break that down:

  • The numbers represent averages or medians within each county.
  • “70% median available drawdown remaining in 2080” means counties cannot draw down their aquifer(s) more than 30%. Seventy percent must remain at the end of the period – 2080. Each district controls this by monitoring aquifer levels and adjusting annual well permits to meet the goal.
  • “No more than an average of 1.0 additional foot of subsidence between 2009 and 2080” means “county-wide.”

Understand that some areas have already experienced significant subsidence in the last decade. For instance, before moving to more surface water, the Woodlands was sinking about 2 centimeters per year. That’s more than three quarters of an inch per year, 7.8 inches in ten years, or almost 2 feet during the life of a 30 year mortgage.

When The Woodlands began using more surface water in 2016 after completion of a surface water pipeline from Lake Conroe, the rate of subsidence dropped 75%.

Subsidence: a Check against Excessive Drawdown

The subsidence metric (1 foot additional) is a check on drawdown. Aquifers can recharge, but subsidence cannot reverse itself.

The subsidence metric ensures that groundwater pumpers won’t deplete aquifers, then magically claim they will recharge in the last year of the monitoring period. It protects both groundwater levels and homes.

Simon Sequeira, owner of a large for-profit groundwater pumping utility in Montgomery County, has fought the inclusion of a subsidence metric in the DFCs for years. This four-page letter to GMA-14 spells out his reasons why a subsidence metric should NOT be included in DFCs. In it, he first claims that drawdown will become an issue before subsidence becomes evident. He then threatens to sue everyone in sight if a subsidence metric IS included. Duh!

If he really believed subsidence is not a factor, why does he protest it so much? And why won’t he answer that question?

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” said Shakespeare in Hamlet – a phrase used in everyday speech to indicate doubt regarding the truth of an overly strong denial. 

The simple fact is this. Subsidence was already happening with pumping rates lower than the DFCs proposed. When MoCo started using more surface water, the subsidence leveled off. But get ready for more if Sue-Happy Simon gets his way.

Learn More and Protect Your Property Rights

To learn more about subsidence, check out:

Please consider emailing the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District before July 23rd. Demand that they adopt the subsidence metric proposed by GMA-14 and a sustainable pumping rate.

Compose your own email to info@lonestargcd.org or just click this link. Don’t forget to replace the placeholders for contact info with your real info and hit send. It only takes a few seconds.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/16/2021

1417 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.

LSGCD Finally Approves Phase II of Subsidence Study, Only One Problem…

At its April 13, 2021 board meeting, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) finally approved Phase 2 of its Subsidence Study. Approval of the study had been on the agenda for months, but kept getting postponed. It was only after Groundwater Management Agency 14 (GMA-14) insisted on a subsidence metric in its Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) last Friday, that LSGCD finally approved the study this Tuesday.

Samantha Reiter, General Manager of LSGCD, has repeatedly stated for months that subsidence is not a limiting factor in Montgomery County, so it shouldn’t be included in DFCs for Montgomery County. She made three motions in the GMA-14 meeting last week that would have let LSGCD avoid a subsidence limitation that she claimed did not apply.

The study – which might or might not support that conclusion – will take 60 weeks to complete. But the Texas Water Development Board deadline for DFCs from all groundwater management areas is January 5, 2022 – in 38 weeks.

The study will cost $122,700 and arrive 22 weeks after the train leaves the station.

For the full details of the study scope of work, costs, and timetable that LSGCD approved last night, click here.

Scope of Work to Focus on MoCo

A thorough reader will also note that while LSGCD has been trumpeting “subsidence is not a limiting factor here,” the scope of work acknowledges that Phase One of the study was basically a literature review of pre-existing studies. Most of those were based in other counties.

The ostensible purpose of the Phase Two study is to develop data specific to Montgomery County and LSGCD (see pages 1/2). So it appears, they may not really obtain data to prove or disprove their claim until long after DFCs must be finalized by statute.

Lone Star Still Hopeful It Can Avoid Subsidence Metric

To her credit, Ms. Reiter admitted later in the board meeting that GMA-14 rejected her three alternative motions to make a subsidence DFC optional. However, during that discussion, she also said she thought part of the pushback came because she circulated her motion(s) for review at 11 p.m. the night before the meeting. That angered some people who said they had been begging for motions to review, even if only in draft form, for months.

Reiter stated last night to her board that she hoped those GMA-14 members would reconsider her motions in October. That would happen after the public comment period on the DFCs adopted last Friday. However, making a major change at that point might trigger a second 90-day public comment period. That’s going to be tight. Only 91 days exist between October 6th (the next GMA-14 meeting) and January 5, the state’s mandatory deadline.

Two Potential Issues with Study Scope

First, LSGCD said it plans to review the DFCs with stakeholders. But many of the people impacted are outside Montgomery County and they aren’t considered “stakeholders.” For instance, models show that at the rate LSGCD wants to pump groundwater, it would cause approximately 3 feet of subsidence in the Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita and Huffman areas but only 1 foot of subsidence at the Lake Houston Dam. That would essentially bring floodwaters two feet closer to upstream homes in Harris County. But we’re not considered LSGCD stakeholders.

Subsidence in Harris County that could be triggered if Lone Star pumps as much water as it voted to.
Lake Houston Dam During Harvey had five times more water going over it than goes over Niagra Falls on an average day. More than 16,000 homes and 3,300 businesses in the Lake Houston Area flooded during Harvey.

Second, the scope of work for the Lone Star subsidence study says, “we will evaluate logs up to 10 miles beyond the Montgomery County boundary to aid in constraining the interpolation of surfaces within LSGC.” Said another way, it appears that they won’t evaluate their impact on Harris County. The purpose of a groundwater management area is to bind all the people of a region together in a common cause. But that doesn’t seem to be happening here.

Fortunately, Harris County residents will still have an opportunity to provide input directly to GMA-14 or the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District.

People must stay engaged on this issue. We should not assume it is behind us simply because GMA-14 adopted some proposed DFCs for public comment.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/14/2021

1324 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.

LSGCD Votes to Almost Double Groundwater Pumping, Treat Subsidence as PR problem

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) board voted Wednesday in a special meeting to throw caution and conservation to the wind. In a long-delayed vote, the board unanimously agreed to adopt “Desired Future Conditions” (DFCs) that allow groundwater pumping to increase from approximately 60,000 acre fee per year to 115,000. This was the third of three alternatives they considered and the one that caused up to 3.5 feet of subsidence in southern MoCo. The board also voted unanimously NOT to include a subsidence metric in their DFCs and to hire an Austin PR firm, The Mach 1 Group, to handle the PR fallout.

Still No Action to Initiate MoCo Subsidence Study

For the third meeting in a row, the board also took no action to initiate Phase II of its subsidence study. The LSGCD Phase I report stated that Phase II would assess subsidence and flooding. However, having decided to ignore subsidence, the fate of Phase II remains unclear. (As of this writing, the board has not yet posted its agenda for the regularly scheduled April 13 meeting, nor has it posted the video of the April 7 meeting.) (Update: as of 4/12 at noon, video of the meeting was still not posted.)

Stage Set for Showdown

All of these decisions set the stage for a showdown at the Groundwater Management Area 14 (GMA-14) meeting this Friday at 9 a.m. Approval of LSGCD’s DFCs requires a two-thirds vote. Because GMA-14 has five voting groundwater conservation districts, approval will require at least three others.

GMA-14 will meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. to discuss its options. See meeting details below if you wish to participate.

More Troubling Contradictions Emerge from Meeting

Those who follow this debate have noted many troubling contradictions on the part of LSGCD and yesterday’s meeting was no exception.

The virtual meeting started 14 minutes late due to connectivity issues. The few hardy souls who persisted through the delays and poor audio quality, were treated to lengthy presentations that covered old ground and several contradictory comments from staff and board members.

For instance:

  • LSGCD claimed at the last GMA-14 meeting that it needed another month to hold stakeholder meetings before they could vote on DFCs. But last night’s reports on the stakeholder meetings did not mention subsidence, only the need to improve communications. This set the stage for the motions to ignore subsidence in DFCs and to hire a PR agency. It would be interesting to learn whether stakeholders expressed concerns about subsidence that weren’t reported.
  • QuadVest, which reportedly funded the campaigns of current board members, previously threatened to sue everyone in sight if they didn’t get their way. However, in yesterday’s meeting, they claimed they now had no plans to sue anyone. (Note: Previous to voting on yesterday’s motion, the board discussed litigation in executive session.) Winning through intimidation!
  • The board claimed it could not measure subsidence, although tools to do so are cheap and readily available. And the LSGCD staff was told so in the last GMA-14 meeting.
  • The board also insisted its problems were based on misinformation, but failed to acknowledge one example. Neither did they acknowledge their own role in spreading disinformation.
  • For instance, LSGCD claimed Harris County had no subsidence metric in place, ignoring the facts that the goal of the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District is to eliminate subsidence and that HGSD has extensive regulations in place to get people off of groundwater.
  • The key argument seemed to be that aquifer decline, not subsidence, was the only limiting factor on groundwater pumping. But modeling showed that at the pumping rate they adopted, subsidence would exceed three feet in places.
  • The board also argued that pumping in Harris County affected subsidence in MoCo. While true in certain cases, that ignores the fact that they approved an increase in MoCo pumping while pumping in Harris County is declining.
  • They talked a lot about property rights, but never specified whose. QuadVest believes they have a right to pump water from beneath your house.
Modeled subsidence in MoCo if pumping reaches 115,000 acre feet per year.

Who Benefits?

QuadVest gets to pump more water, the raw material of its business. QuadVest previously backed efforts to get the LSGCD board elected rather than appointed by local regulated entities. QuadVest then reportedly backed a slate of candidates promising to “Restore Affordable Water.” However, according to MoCo residents who get QuadVest water and have contacted me, water rates have not come down.

Who Loses?

Consequences of subsidence are widespread. Differential subsidence measured over wide areas can alter the gradient of ditches, pipelines, streams, rivers and lakes. For instance, models show that the subsidence associated with pumping 115,000 acre feet per year in Montgomery County would cause 1 foot of subsidence at the Lake Houston Dam but 3 feet in Kingwood and Huffman. That would put tens of thousands of upstream residents 2 feet closer to floodwaters.

Rescue efforts in Kingwood on Valley Manor during Harvey flood in 2017. Almost two miles from West Fork of San Jacinto.
Rescue efforts in Kingwood on Valley Manor during Harvey flood in 2017. 2.1 miles from West Fork of San Jacinto. 110 homes in this subdivision flooded. Imagine if water were 2 feet higher.

Subsidence can also crack roads, foundations, walls, ceilings, and roofs, especially near fault lines which are plentiful in southern MoCo and northern Harris Counties.

Subsidence triggered by groundwater pumping at a Woodlands home near a fault line.

Avoiding Checks and Balances

If subsidence isn’t really a danger as the LSGCD board contends, why not include a subsidence metric in its DFCs? Aquifers can rebound over time, but subsidence is forever. Over-pumping could cause irreversible damage as you see above.

GMA-14 Meeting Details

The GMA-14 meeting is April 9, 2021 at 9 a.m. To make a public comment, sign up here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on April 8, 2021

1318 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.