Tag Archive for: watershed study

Log Jam Finally Broken on Long-Awaited Regional San Jacinto River Basin Study

In March last year, the San Jacinto River Authority, City of Houston, Montgomery County and Harris County proposed a river basin study of the San Jacinto.

Scope of River Basin Study

The scope includes evaluating the cost effectiveness and feasibility of a variety of flood mitigation projects. They include additional gates for the Lake Houston Dam, additional dredging and additional upstream detention – all important for the Lake Houston Area.

West Fork Sand Mine Complex inundated by Harvey.

But the scope also includes many other potential projects. The $2+ million grant request to FEMA covered the entire San Jacinto River basin including the East and West Forks.

10 Months of Delays

Then the grant request fell into a great black hole. Nine months went by while FEMA pondered and tweaked the 15-page grant application. Finally, FEMA was ready to write the check in December…when the government shut down.

Finally, a Green Light

Today, however, I got news that FEMA finally green-lighted the project through TDEM, the Texas Division of Emergency Management. TDEM coordinates all FEMA requests for the State of Texas.

This will benefit multiple counties throughout entire basin. It’s not often this many governmental entities come together to impact an area this large.

Residents trying to escape as Harvey's floodwaters rose
Residents of Kingwood Village Estates trying to escape as Harvey’s floodwaters rose. 12 residents died as a result of injuries sustained during evacuation or the stress from losing their homes.

All parties have reportedly signed inter-local agreements (ILAs) already. An ILA is like a contract between governmental entities.

Next Steps Before Kickoff

Next steps: Harris County Flood Control will present details of the grant package to Harris County Commissioners Court at the Court’s Feb 12th meeting.

Following court acceptance of the grant, HCFCD hopes to obtain Commissioner’s Court approval of the agreement with the consulting firms that will execute the river basin study. 

All those involved hope for an official study kickoff in late February/early March.

Among many other things, study will examine sedimentation and its role in flooding.

For More Information

Harris County Flood Control is currently working to update its website. When additional information becomes available later this week, you will be able to view it at: https://www.hcfcd.org/hurricane-harvey/hurricane-harvey-kingwood-information/upper-san-jacinto-river-regional-watershed-flood-mitigation-plan/

Study to Take 18 Months

Originally, the study was to have taken approximately a year. However, additional FEMA requirements mean it will now take 18 months. That means we should be looking at recommendations 3 years after Harvey. Then the partners will submit additional grants to FEMA for projects that result from the study.

See my previous editorial comments about the state of disaster mitigation. “Time is the enemy of disaster mitigation”. You can quote me on that.

Posted by Bob Rehak on January 29, 2019

518 Days after Hurricane Harvey