Comment of the Day: Bayou Overlook

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BAYOU OVERLOOK “Everyone I know thinks I’m crazy, but I canoed Buffalo Bayou from Highway 6 to downtown a few years ago, and it was surprisingly clean and natural. The best part was the stretch through Eleanor Tinsley Park, at the end of the trip, where the downtown skyline suddenly pops into view. In April of this year, a friend and I took a ride on the little-known public pontoon boat ride offered occasionally on Buffalo Bayou near the Sabine Street Bridge. It was a really, really neat experience, and there were only 4 people including us that were there for the ride. The city is so different from the water. They even show you the ruins of a family tomb that was used as a foundation a bridge that still exists, and there is a point where a heavy stream of clean water pours into the bayou from an uncapped artesian well under a street a few blocks away. The weather was perfect that day, and I was shocked at seeing only a few dozen people utilizing the landscaped trails and green spaces along the bayou. I’m sure on the same day, Memorial Park and Hermann Park were packed – why not this place? I wish the Bayou had a more prevalent place in Houston’s image and culture.” [Superdave, commenting on Banks Report: Tex Hex Graduates from Buffalo Bayou Movie Scene, Gets Ready for Official White Oak Bayou Premiere]

26 Comment

  • For some reason, “uncapped artesian well” sounds a lot like a broken water main.

  • For decades, Buffalo Bayou stank of sewage and regularly featured floating dead fish (at least in the area near downtown.) I think it still has THAT image in people’s minds. It would be nice to see that image change, because the bayou is a lot cleaner now than it was then. But the city isn’t making people aware. It will just take time.

  • We’ve tried to take that boat trip in the past and never got a return phone call so we gave up. Our kids would love it too but got tired of trying to chase those people down. They need more regular times and dates and people would do it.

  • Yeah, the “uncapped artesian well” sounds fishy to me…

  • The “treated” sewage of nearly 4.5 million people flows into Buffalo, Brays, Greens & White Oak Bayous and ultimately into Galveston Bay. Ya’ll can play in that water all you want. I’ll stay at the ice house.

  • The story on the name for the bayou was that it was either from ‘Cibolo’ (Indian word for the buffalo/bison that used to roam the prairie and gather near the bayou’s edge) or for the abundant buffalo fish that could be seen through the clear waters. When James Audubon came to Buffalo Bayou, he reported seeing numerous ivory billed woodpeckers in the cypress trees.

  • Dead floating fish? How about dead floating bodies downtown…..

  • Perhaps the deadly waterborne MRSA bacteria that doctors don’t know how to cure (see story below on Swamplot) might have something to do with people being a bit wary about gallivanting along the bayous?

  • I blame Houston, because the canals in Amsterdam and San Antonio are totally potable.

  • Frankly, I am not going anywhere near those landscaped trails and greenspaces. The “landscapted trails” near my house double as a “camping site” for a rather large group of homeless men. I don’t want to be insensitive to the plight of the homeless, but at the same time, it does stink that we ALL can’t enjoy the “woodsy” area in the neighborhood.

  • @Craig…I lived in San Antonio for 15 years.Not even the tap water was potable.

  • Over the past year or so, I have taken 4 or 5 kayaking trips down Buffalo Bayou that start in memorial and end either at sabine street or Allen’s Landing downtown. They have been very cool, and you will see a side of Houston that most people don’t know exists. Lots of trees, multiple bat colonies, birds, turtles, and the manicured lawns of the uber-wealthy (who have some of the only waterfront property in Houston, such as it is).

  • A lot of runners use those trails along Buffalo Bayou, but at this time of year it’s mainly around dawn and dusk, not mid-afternoon when those boat tours are given. Remember, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

  • Mel #10,

    You should call HPD. We had some “urban campers” along the greenspace of Brays near our east end hood. Cops came out, rousted them and they have not returned. Perhaps tho, they found the campground near you.

    Still, there are shelters for those folks, they should utilize them.

  • There is a huge colony of homeless. The polce are quite aware.
    I personally think encouraging mentally ill addicts to congregate in large numbers anywhere does them no favors. They are not a good influence on each other

  • Sally01 – I think Craig was kidding. I don’t think anyone thinks the San Antonio Riverwalk or the canals in Amsterdam have crystal clear water.

  • The police rounded up our regulars 2-3 years ago. It took them awhile, but they are back- with new friends and more dogs. Welcome back!

  • Anyone see the show on Travel Channel last night about the LA river (mistakenly thought of as a concrete ditch)? They kayaked down it (which is illegal).

  • @Bubba
    As an environmental engineer, I can assure you that COH is required by very clear and strict regulations to treat sewage to standards which make the effluent suitable for discharge into a waterway which can than have water extracted for purification into drinking water.

    A huge number of communities get their drinking water and discharge their sewage effluent into and from the same body of water. Think of the Trinity River. It’s no big deal.

  • It’s no big deal until we get heavy rains, everything gets overtaxed, and we see the RO toilet paper @ Allen’s Landing.

  • …or any of the delightful MUDs scattered throughout the Lake Houston watershed…more to your point.

    Frankly, I prefer not to think of the Trinity River, though it was kinda cool when that pipline busted after heavy rains/runoff and it looked on TV as though the whole river was on fire.

    Chlorine to the rescue!

    “Clear and strict regulations” – sadly the treated effluent may be the cleanest water discharged into these filty rivers.

  • I should note that I’m not a “professional environmental engineer”, I just have a degree in it.

  • I actually saw a bum camping on a sand bar in the bayou in a tent under 59 last year. It’s only accessible during low tide low rain events.

  • Check out the Bayou Preservation Association’s website at
    Buffalo Bayou from Hwy 6 to Allens Landing is now an official TX Pk. & Wildlife paddle trail. Yeah, I’m on their board.

    And a new company called a provides guided trips on several sections of the bayou.

  • There’s also some amazing paddling 30 minutes east of town in the little lakes and bayous around Lake Charlotte. It always amazes me that so few people know about it. Great resource and no homeless camps. No buildings, even.