Introducing the Swamplot Award for Best Body of Water

Last week we opened for your nominations the first 2 categories in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, both of which have been included in some form every year we’ve run the Swampies: Favorite Houston Design Cliché and Best Demolition. Today, we introduce a brand-new category for specially chosen for 2014: Best Body of Water.

Natural or manmade, streaming or stagnant: the Houston area retains its fair share of water. But which lake, river, bayou, channel, aquifer, fountain, pool, retaining pond, tank, cistern, water treatment facility, or other such repository of liquids is worthy of the highest bestowable honor by Swamplot readers? As with all the categories, this award is open to your interpretation, so get creative!

Put your choice in the comments section below — or in an email before midnight on Thursday, December 11. More complete instructions covering the nominating process can be found on this page. Don’t forget to tell us why you’re nominating what you’re nominating. (Otherwise, what’s the point?) And if you use your nomination to give this category a twist, use your introduction to sell your vision.

The 2014 Swampies

22 Comment

  • Without question, it’s the Houston Ship Channel. It’s 100 years old this year, and it’s impact on the region cannot be underestimated from an economic standpoint. And Buffalo Bayou, from which it was dredged, is the reason that Houston is where it is – the furthest upstream that river that boats could go in 1836.

  • I’m going to define “body” as grouping and nominate the area around Mecom Fountain and Hermann Park. Lots of cool fountains and water features there, and the flat-sheet fountain on the front of the MFAH’s Beck Building always brings a smile to my face. Just driving down Fannin you can see three fountains from your car.

  • I nominate upper Galveston Bay because it is the only body of water along which I have ever been almost swept away and killed by a tsunami. (The ships passing through there at a decent clip and sufficiently laden down by cargo draw quite a large draft, and the bathymetry of the area amplifies it.). I was lucky to be able to hop atop an overturned lifeboat that had washed ashore. The nightmares are of a recurring variety.

  • I would say Buffalo Run Park in Mo City which has like 40 acres of water or Galveston Bay

  • I know it doesn’t exist yet, but how about the Texas-shaped lazy river being planned for the roof of the new Marriot convention hotel?

  • The Rice University Rec Center swimming pool. Over eight hundred thousand gallons of Olympic sized aquatic goodness, in use by swimmers ranging from little six year old tadpoles to craggy old masters swimmers in their eighties, with the Rice students and Rice women’s varsity team in between, from 6 am to 8 pm every day, outside, exposed to the elements, winter and summer. It’s hard to think of an outdoor venue that gets more people wet in Houston, every day.

  • Representing poor street drainage across the city: the standing water on both sides of the 200 block of Cordell. The city says it’s the property owners’ problem, and property owners point out that the block is not graded to any nearby storm drains. Rainwater collects along both curbs and stays for days. Vehicles drive down the center of the street to avoid the unknown depths. Tractor-trailers serving the meatpacking building chew up the asphalt to make craters as deep as 10 inches. Eventually the water evaporates and the perilous pavement is dry…until the next rain. Every three or four years the city comes and slops some asphalt on the potholes — lather, rinse, repeat. The only benefit is the temporary wetlands created by this mess: mosquitoes and tadpoles and frogs and night herons grace the grimy puddles with some biology.

  • I have to second the Ship Channel nomination. It’s pretty much why we’re all here, and not some other port town up or down the coast.

  • Rice University rec pool. It is a beautiful sight standing on the pool deck in the winter in your swimsuit watching the mist roll off the pool.

  • I nominate the conglomeration of potholes on Richmond Ave. Some could probably count towards detention.

  • 40 acre lake at Brazos Bend State Park. You can reliably see alligators swimming around the fishing dock and get as close to them as you would ever need to. In the spring, you can easily see a dozen alligators while walking the path that goes around the lake. The view from the observation tower over Pliant Lake is amazing. Best picnic spot in the Houston area under the oak trees next to the lake. Egrets, herons, ducks, spoonbills, and so on. The lake is slowly being choked by invasive water hyacinth, which serves as an important reminder of our stewardship obligations over our natural spaces. But, even with the invader, this is still the place you take guests from out of town and do not get the silent parenthetical “for Houston” when someone says “wow, this is really nice”.

  • And by best, I mean “worst.”
    My nomination goes for Sims and Bray Bayous for the 100+ cars that lie below the water. Bayous have long aided the development of Houston, but I don’t understand how they’ve ended up so neglected and polluted. They’re essentially underwater landfills. What boggles me is that HPD is aware of this, but no one has any plans to do anything about it. (I wonder if the count of cars has gone up…)
    Houston’s bayous just gross me out. To be nicknamed the Bayou City, our bayous are pretty damned gross. Does anything other than ecoli live in them? *shudder*
    I like the Ship Channel nomination, too – very, very important to the City.

  • I nominate the Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve. It’s nice to see something like this done outside the loop.

  • I nominate the puddles of urine on the residential streets located near any trendy bar at 2am.

  • Rice University pool…yes! For all the previously stated reasons and don’t forget the well maintained surrounding architecture with art installations along the way to the pool.

  • I suppose that it’d be appropriate to merge my earlier nomination of Upper Galveston Bay into the Houston Ship Channel. The tsunamis of Galveston Bay wouldn’t happen without the ship channel being there, so not only would I not have nightmares about that day, but there wouldn’t be tanker surfing:

  • I nominate all the Houston feeder roads, ramps, and underpasses prone to flooding each time it rains.

  • I’d second the nomination of two:

    1) the man-made “reefs” in Brays Bayou. This must represent the nation’s largest urban fishery, and our humble Brays Bayou holds the state record Plecostomus caught on a fly rod.

    2) The Rice University pool at the Gibbs Rec Center. That place is a beehive of activity and probably does get as many people wet per gallon as any body of water in the city.

  • My vote is for Bryan Beach – Freeport. It’s calm, quiet, and empty. Best of all, the water is clearer than Galveston. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.

  • The underground parking garage in the Calais at Cortlandt Square. When it flooded on Aug. 1, 2014, it reminded us of why we don’t do basements here, while simultaneously putting hundreds of Midtown hipster yuppies in their place.

  • I agree, it has to be the ship channel/Galveston bay.

  • With all the improvements, Buffalo Bayou (Park) for sure!!!!