COULD HARRIS COUNTY SAVE UP SOME FLOODWATER FOR WHEN IT’S REALLY NEEDED? Finding a way to stockpile floodwater during years of plenty, commissioner Jack Cagle tells Mihir Zaveri this week, might not only help to make more water available for use during Houston’s drought years. It might also be a way to check the Houston region’s tendency for subsidence (that slow, permanent sinking that can happen when groundwater is pulled out of Houston’s soft clay layers too quickly). Or maybe, Zaveri adds, it could be used to help keep seawater from being sucked into aquifers as fresh water gets sucked out the other side — as long as doing so didn’t accidentally contaminate those same aquifers with junk from the surface. Who knows? Nobody, yet — but the county commissioners have given the $160,000 okay to a study team to shed light on whether it would be possible, feasible, or advisible for Harris County to pump floodwater underground for storage during major storms. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Meyerland flooding on Tax Day 2016: Tamara Fish
That stolen 1985 Fiero GT that HPD officers pulled from the bottom of Lake Houston last summer after a 22-year soak is now available for sale online, a reader notes. Damaged-car auction site Copart (pronounced “CO-part,” not “COP-art”) features the mangled, muddy mess in an extensive photo gallery, and pegs the car’s actual cash value (before the minor flooding incident, of course) at $2,000 — same as the estimated cost to repair. Minimum bid for the fiberglass-paneled former vehicle: $175. Houston’s Art Car Parade is less than 3 months away.
CONTINUE READING THIS STORY
Low water levels have exposed more Lake Houston automotive bounty than just that mid-eighties Pontiac Fiero that was liberated from the city’s water supply over the summer: There’s lots more tires and car batteries to be found, too. Before the weekend’s rains threatened to cover it all up again, area residents pulled various debris and about about 100 tires found wedged in the mud from an old abandoned fish camp and marina at the end of Stillson Rd. on the city reservoir’s east side.
Photos: Roger Randall
BECAUSE WHERE THERE’S SMOKING, THERE COULD BE FIRE In the aftermath of a West Houston grass fire that scorched 1500 acres of George Bush Park, Mayor Parker and some city council members are considering instituting a temporary smoking ban at all city parks for as long as the drought lasts. This week city council gave its blessing to a ban Parker instituted earlier on open-flame barbecuing and grilling in city parks. A burn ban in county parks — which includes smoking — has been in effect since April. [Houston Chronicle; park fire]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: NOW EVEN THE SQUIRRELS ARE PLANKING “The other day I watched as a squirrel dug out a spot at the base of a smallish red oak in my front yard. I must have been about 10 or 12 feet from him. After he got it just as he wanted, he splayed out belly down in the depression he had created.
I wondered if it was cool to his stomach, or what would make him do that.
He didn’t seem to care about me. Was not the least bit frightened.” [PYEWACKET2, commenting on Houston Tree Massacre Body Count]
HOUSTON TREE MASSACRE BODY COUNT For full effect, Trees for Houston executive director Barry Ward counts the number of local trees expected to die and be removed over the next 2 years because of the recent drought: 66 million. (Okay, but how many of them will we get to carve up for mermaid and doggie sculptures?) That’s 10 percent of the greater Houston area’s branch-bearing population right there. At Memorial Park, 400 of approximately 1,000 close-to-dead trees have already been removed. More fun urban deforesting facts: Already, more trees have been destroyed by the drought than by Hurricane Ike. [Culturemap; watering hints] Photo: Houston Tomorrow
Drought has turned land that used to be part of Lake Houston into a jungle of 14-ft.-tall snake-infested weeds. Waterfront residents of Kings River Village, near the northern end of the lake in Humble, would like to knock down the vegetation that’s sprung up as the lake has receded, and that now surrounds their newly dry backyard docks. But some are proceeding with caution because they don’t own the newfound land and are wary of legal and ecological issues that might result from clear-cutting the newly exposed wetlands. “Right now, we are just in a situation where our kids can’t go back anywhere near the lake because of the weeds and the snakes that are back there,” Clear Sky Dr. resident David Labbe tells the Lake Houston Observer. “We’ve seen an abundance of snakes. We don’t know what rights we have, as homeowners, to go out there and try to remedy the situation.” Labbe has contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, the San Jacinto River Authority, and Houston officials, but hasn’t received an answer yet.
Photo: Stephen Thomas/Lake Houston Observer
This quarter-century-old Pontiac Fiero was pulled out of Lake Houston yesterday. It’s one of 2 cars recently discovered to have been parked in what used to be the lower depths of the Houston reservoir. One benefit of the drought: Since water levels at the lake have dropped by 6 1/2 to 7 feet, it’s now so much easier to find long-missing vehicles and other debris flavoring the city water supply. The 2-seater was a stolen sportscar believed to have been hanging out in the lake since 1990. Also found sleeping with the fishes near the lake bottom, according to HPD marine unit sergeant T.W. Harding: “tires, logs, all kinds of trash, beer cans beyond belief, a lot of soft drink bottles and beer bottles from the 1950s.”
More pics of the HPD lake patrol unit’s Fiero rescue:
CONTINUE READING THIS STORY
AND THE WINNER OF THE LOCAL WATER-USE RESTRICTIONS DERBY IS . . . League City, with these dry, dry, Stage 5 drought prohibitions: No washing your car; no refilling your pool; no spraying water for dust control; restaurants can’t bring diners water unless they ask for it; and no running those sprinklers or garden hose, day or night. Also in the no-watering-your-lawn-no-matter-what-day-it-is zone: Galveston [KHOU 11 News; restrictions]
What to do when the city can’t get around to fixing that leak on your street? An enterprising resident of Kipling St. near Dunlavy bought an $80 pump at Southland Hardware and connected it to a hose, allowing neighbors to take turns watering their lawns with the water, which has been running for about 2 weeks. “I hope the cost of the electricity is less than the water cost savings,” he tells Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia. Garcia herself called 311 about the leak more than a week ago, and says others who have reported it say they’ve been told by city officials that the heat and drought has caused more than 400 water leaks around the city, and that the biggest leaks are being tackled first. As of last night, a second pump has begun operating up the street.
Photos: Candace Garcia