Time’s almost up for a whole mess of trees lining the south side of Buffalo Bayou between Eldridge Pkwy. and Dairy Ashford (pictured at top), where the Harris County Flood Control District plans to construct the first 3 of a series of overflow basins. Removal of vegetation across the bayou from Nottingham Forest’s southern border is scheduled to begin within a few weeks; construction company Lecon has the $1.8 million contract to build the “linear stormwater detention compartments,” which are meant to accommodate a temporary visit of up to 90 acre-ft. of bayou water during a flood.
The trees and basins will be carved out of Terry Hershey Park. The district notes that some trees and vegetation may be preserved — forming a buffer “where possible” between the basins and private property to the south. Large sections of the popular Anthills Mountain Bike Trail, which the district notes “were built on publicly-owned land without written permission and without compensation to the public” will be cleared, though a portion that sits between the 2 westernmost basins will remain.
Later construction will add more basins on Flood Control District-owned land along the 6.4-mile stretch of bayou between Hwy. 6 and Beltway 8. Similar detention is already in place on the north side of the bayou, from Dairy Ashford to Wilcrest.
The new basins “would not have likely prevented flooding in Hurricane Harvey or a similar weather event,” the district notes, but “it would reduce damages from more frequent storms and would serve to increase our defenses against flooding during larger-scale rain events.”
Slowing and retaining stormwater before it reaches the bayou would be a better and less expensive approach, notes nonprofit advocacy group Save Buffalo Bayou, which opposes the project: “Allow the bayou to restore its natural meanders, naturally lengthening and increasing the capacity of the stream, which is what it will keep trying to do anyway, eating away at the banks long ago weakened by artificial straightening as well as by ongoing digging and compressing by heavy equipment. Instead the county and the district spend millions repairing the unstable channel in order to keep it straight.”
- Removing Trees on Buffalo Bayou Because It’s Cheap and Easy; Flood Control Sends Notice to Residents Adjacent to Terry Hershey Park [Save Buffalo Bayou]
- F-58 Linear Stormwater Detention on Buffalo Bayou; FAQ; flyer, [HCFCD]
- Previously on Swamplot: Stop Trying To Fix Buffalo Bayou, Says Save Buffalo Bayou