Comment of the Day: The Real Reason Why Buffalo Bayou Smells and Looks the Way It Does

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE REAL REASON WHY BUFFALO BAYOU SMELLS AND LOOKS THE WAY IT DOES “If Buffalo Bayou stunk so much, then no one would have built a bunch of expensive homes all along it (west of downtown). Most of the Houston area’s waste water effluent flows into the Bayou east of downtown anyways. The Clinton/69th plant (the largest in the city) is just east of downtown, and the Sims and Braes plants don’t enter until well past downtown. With that said, I don’t think the treatment plants are the big contributors to the overall unpleasantness of the Buffalo Bayou water (flood events not withstanding). Most of the effluent (when the plants are properly operating) is nearly clear and usually only has an ‘earthy’ odor to it if any at all. I think the big issue with the bayou’s water quality is the regular runoff and trash that flows into it and eventually lines the shores of it all along downtown.” [nmj, commenting on The North Canal, a New Downtown Island, and Other Secret Plans for Downtown Houston’s Future] Photo: Swamplot inbox

9 Comment

  • All of that is true enough. In prior years, the River Oaks treatment plant – beside the Allen/Shepherd intersection – hadn’t worked for 50 years. The Feds got after the city and that’s one of the reasons we pay a sewer tax – the City was compelled to clean up all these developer plants that weren’t working. Buffalo was always good until after Memorial Park and this intersection.
    Yeah…the trash…what a dump. It’s a chain for disposal of Abbott bags.
    There is little “natural” beauty to put your home against in Houston and Buffalo Bayou can look really nice from behind thick glass walls with the a/c on. There are a jillion really nice homes overlooking it…you’ll never see them.

  • Thanks to this little thing called the clean water act that the hippies passed, all sewage goes through treatment plants before being dumped into the bayous.

  • @Michael Bludworth, Buffalo Bayou looks really nice from a kayak or canoe, and you can see the houses from the water. I’ve encountered all sorts of wildlife including many different bird species, turtles, and an alligator. There are maps online locating the put-in / take-out spots, if you’re so inclined. Pro tip: if you’re paddling by yourself and wish to take out at the same spot you put in, paddle upstream first, and save the easier downstream half for when you’re tired and just want to go home.

  • I tell you what. When i was a kid in the early 80’s i seen people people swimming in the bayou. A lot. Over there by the san felipe bridge. They had a rope swing and were doing tricks. Now this was pre Kathy whitmire clean up. I was 3 or 4 and was like “Ew, that nasty”. I can’t imagine all the types of bacteria that are in that dirty nasty water. Probably a whole new type of aids in there. I would NOT reccomend swimming in that thing. In fact, I don’t think swimming is a good idea at all. If God wanted us to be in the water, He would have given us gills. Same thing goes for flying. Ain’t gonna catch me in no plane. No sir.

    Stay safe

  • The smelliest parts of the Bayou are where the street runoff enters. The one near the Waugh on the south side of the Bayou is super stinky.

  • @ jgriff: The smell at the Waugh Street bridge is aroma of bat guano. If there’s anything else under there that smells bad, I wouldn’t know and couldn’t tell.

  • When I was a kid, we had a rope swing under Chimney Rock Rd on the Briar Branch tributary of Buffalo Bayou, lot’s of fun… Wondering if kids still do it today.

  • You haven’t really smelled the bat guano until you’ve walked, cycled, or paddled underneath the Waugh bridge.