Stop Trying To Fix Buffalo Bayou, Says Save Buffalo Bayou

STOP TRYING TO FIX BUFFALO BAYOU, SAYS SAVE BUFFALO BAYOU Buffalo Bayou Bank Shift The waterway enthusiasts at Save Buffalo Bayou just issued their report on their recent tours of the waterway, with an eye toward how the scene has changed in the wake of the Tax Day flooding and the extended high flows from the try-not-to-make-things-worse paced drainage of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. The photo above, taken during the organization’s scouting, shows an area of the bayou where the river channel dug through a curve and moved over, such that some landmarks previously on the north bank are now on the south side. The authors take issue with a number of current and proposed plans to keep the bayou’s banks in place, and suggest that the best way to end up with a relatively stable channel is to step back and let geology do the job: “When the bayou’s banks slump or collapse, the brush and fallen trees left in place collect sediment during subsequent high waters, gradually rebuilding naturally reinforced banks. These new nature-built banks are better able to withstand subsequent floods as well as the more powerful flows being released from the dams . . . The bayou itself then reseeds these and other sandy areas with the proper succession of plants that first colonize then stabilize the sediment, turning sand into soil, preparing the way for seedlings of trees. It’s part of the natural function of riverine flooding that we rarely have opportunity to observe, especially in the middle of a city where we have dug up and covered in concrete most of our bayous and streams.” [Save Buffalo Bayou; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Save Buffalo Bayou

11 Comment

  • Billions of dollars of real estate will beg to differ.

  • Not sure that folks in River Oaks would be crazy about a portion of their property being cut off by the bayou currents and left on the other side of the bayou’s banks.

  • Sounds nice but that little part about the bayou being in the middle of the city, thats why it can’t be left up to nature. Funny how none of the saviors stopped development in cinco ranco, west oaks, energy corridor, westchase, city centre, memorial city, uptown, rice military, river oaks, montrose, 6th ward etc. But now they want to naturalize the drainage ditch for the soon to be 3rd largest city? I worked on Buffalo Bayou, yes at one time I actually made a living on the bayou. Having seen first hand the nature, I understand the need to conserve and protect. But the Buffalo Bayou we know today is man made. Ship Channel, turning basin, the resovoirs, Allen’s Landing even the ill-fateded Shepherd’s Dam all took a meandering stream and turned it into a industrial workhorse for Houston. Basically the “natural flow” is impossible to get back, for that matter it never was something that the majority of Houstonians wanted. There are other bayous and creeks in the area that can take up the cause that don’t happen to be in one of the most expensive and sought after flood plains in America. It is a noble battle but it was doomed to be one of beautification, not naturalization the moment the Allen Brothers deceided to build a better new york city in Texas.

  • How can they not understand that rivers do not work that way? Rivers, especially slow moving ones, are constantly moving their banks. Have the Save Buffalo Bayou experts ever seen a river that wasn’t under constant correction by humans?

  • Click on the link for the save the bayou website and look at the little slide show. The point they are making is why pay millions to do bank stabilization projects that are largely untested in Houston’s environment when nature will do the same thing for free. ROCC just did a huge renovation of the golf course and could have adjusted the layout to deal with inevitable erosion and bank stabilization issues. Individual homeowners are free to do their own bank stabilization projects to protect their property. Why dip into public funds to do what mother nature does for free? Put that public money into buying out people on the SW side who keep getting flooded out and expand the capacity of the bayous over there.

  • Where Scott Street crosses Braes Bayou a big section of concrete lining with a walkway on top collapsed recently, so certainly Mother Nature will sometimes have her way before the damage is repaired. But the alternative is to let Mother Nature eat further and further into the bank and undermine the bridge, not to mention the adjacent child care facility. Bayous cannot be left to meander at will in the middle of a big metropolitan area.

  • @Old School: Nature doesn’t stabilize banks without the human part of nature. Rivers move banks. Silt is deposited, new land forms, other land erodes, the river changes.

  • And not to mention they are also upset about the “ugly riprap” the golf club has put up… If they win in getting this project canceled, “ugly riprap” is these property owners only option. What is the value I wonder per square foot of land adjacent to Buffalo Bayou here that this group proposes the owners just let wash away?

  • Brad M:

    If landowners on the bayou don’t want their property cut off by the bayou they should avoid cutting down the trees and plants that hold their land in place. This is science and common sense.

    Simply Sid:

    The stretch of Buffalo Bayou flowing past Memorial Park and down to the Hogg Bird Sanctuary has never been channelized or straightened. Here the river has room to move, and we think it should be allowed to do that, in line with the most advanced thinking about rivers. Rivers that move are healthier, cleaner, and more biologically diverse. But Buffalo Bayou does not actually move that much. Look at the topographic maps on our website.

    We are not trying to naturalize this stretch of the river. It’s natural now, and we want to keep it that way. Digging up, dredging, rerouting, and rebuilding the banks as the flood control district wants to do for no good reason is a foolish waste of public money and will only continue to be a waste of money as the weakened banks will need to be maintained and constantly repaired. And yes, it’s amazing that we have such a natural asset — a historic nature area — in the middle of such a large city.

    We also think that park officials should stop building sidewalks so close to the bayou in our public parks. Concrete and asphalt sidewalks dug into the banks only undermines the banks, and the bayou is going to wash out those banks and sidewalks over and over again no matter how many times the banks are repaired. It’s more waste of public money. The smart thing is to move the sidewalks instead. Check out our photos of Terry Hershey Park and Buffalo Bayou Park on our website.


    We investigated that sidewalk failure on Brays Bayou at Scott Street, which frankly only illustrates our point. But this failure may have been caused by a leaking swimming pool behind a house apparently bought out by the Harris County Flood Control District. In any case, the bayou isn’t to blame for that collapsed concrete sidewalk. The people who built the sidewalk are responsible.


    Ugly riprap is most definitely not the only option for erosion control. Read the story. And half the project is on public park land.

  • Save Buffalo Bayou,

    I agree with your comments.

  • Hey there City of Houston and Harris County! All environmental and fuzzy wuzzy feel goods aside, how about not spending FOUR MILLION DOLLARS OF OUR PUBLIC TAX MONEY to protect the river oaks golf course? Clean out our storm drain system first, last I checked we have a citywide flooding problem. It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that the Memorial Park Demolition Project will not improve things in any way whatsoever.