05/15/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LAY OFF THOSE FLOODED UNDERGROUND FREEWAYS, THEY’RE JUST DOING THEIR JOB “Trenched roads include sumps that are capable of keeping the roadways from flooding from ordinary rain events, but are designed to become flooded in an emergency, acting as additional stormwater detention. Every cubic foot of stormwater that goes in there is a cubic foot that isn’t at the same elevation as city streets, businesses, and houses. It is a feature, not a bug.” [TheNiche, commenting on Watch as Unfunded Parks Appear on Top of Houston Freeways Before Your Very Eyes!]

02/15/17 4:30pm


glen-forest-stormwater-detention-basinJust south of the Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home and Cemetery on I-45 — and just north of Greens Bayou — the Harris County Flood Control District is in the process of digging up more than 2 million cubic feet of soil from the Glen Forest Stormwater Detention Basin-to-be. (That’s the purple shaded area in the map shown here, right upstream from the cluster of bayou-side apartment complexes that flooded on Tax Day and helped spur the pre-dawn conversion of Greenspoint Mall into an emergency shelter.) If the name “Glen Forest” strikes you as a bit mid-century-suburban-neighborhood, that’s because it is: the 160-acre site is named after the sixties-era Glen Forest subdivision formerly constructed on the property. The neighborhood was purchased and demolished as part of HCFCD’s buyout program in the early 2000’s, but the roadways and signs had mostly stuck around, at times serving as a convenient backdrop for unsanctioned motor sports, as demonstrated in the video below:


Greens- and Grave-side Digging
04/26/16 4:30pm

The footage above captures Ed Nelson’s high-water trek last Monday through an overflowing detention basin at the corner of Bob White Dr. and Reamer St. just north of Brays Bayou. Nelson narrates his soggy expedition through the basin (which sits at the south end of the Robindell and Braes Timbers neighborhoods, between Hillcroft Ave. and Fondren Rd.) as he attempts to document different flows of water into and out of the pond; he ultimately claims that water is flowing into the detention pond from Brays, and moving from there into the floodway easement running behind nearby houses on Reamer.

Nelson and other neighbors claim that the surrounding area did not flood prior to the detention basin’s completion in 2008, and that the detention pond was intended to collect water from the surrounding neighborhood and prevent it from flowing too quickly into Brays bayou  — whereas during the Tax Day and Memorial Day floods, the basin purportedly collected water from the bayou and channeled it into the neighborhood, causing houses to flood that neighbors believe might not have otherwise.


Brays Out of Bounds
04/22/16 3:30pm

A water-watching reader sends some south-facing photos from yesterday evening (right) and last October, comparing views over the fenceline of the 400-ft.-wide diversion channel at the northern edge of the Addicks reservoir. The channel picks up most of the flow from Langham and Horsepen creeks where they join up as they flow south into Addicks. The 400-ft.-wide floodway was dug in the 1980s; the flow usually lurks down in the narrow channel seen in the shot on the left.

The scene above is less than a mile east of Bear Creek Village, where water is now moseying into neighborhoods from the western edge of the reservoir (and washing some wildife and livestock around). The Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water from both Addicks and Barker dams to minimize the pooling (and relieve stress on the dam structures themselves) — but those releases have to be done slowly enough to avoid causing additional flooding downstream along Buffalo Bayou. Meanwhile, water is still flowing into the reservoirs from western watersheds; the measured levels behind the 2 dams topped all previous water level records and normally allowed pooling limits in the reservoir by Tuesday, and has been rising since. Here’s a shot of water gushing out through some of the gates of the Barker dam this afternoon:


Drinking It In, Spitting It Out
01/08/14 5:15pm

Barbed Wire Fencing Surrounding Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Basin Prairie Conservation Area, Southwest Houston

Having succeeded in somewhat reducing the planned amount of tree carnage at the southern end of their neighborhood bounding a portion of the Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Basin, residents of Post Oak Manor now have another curious byproduct of those flood-reduction efforts to contend with. Contractors working on the Harris County Flood Control District project are now lining a section of the new detention basin with actual barbed-wire fencing. “This is public paid-for lands,” complains neighborhood resident Valerie Runge. “I can’t help but feel this is retaliation for the trouble we caused trying to keep a few of the trees.”


Cows, Too
11/06/13 10:00am

That vague line of pink barely visible low in the forested area just beyond the backyard of this house on Warm Springs Dr. in Post Oak Manor marks a few of the hundreds of trees the Harris County Flood Control District plans to knock down as part of a second phase of work on the easternmost portion of the Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Basin complex. Most of the trees slated for removal are in a 5-acre zone to the southeast of Post Oak Manor (outlined at the bottom right of the aerial map below), just north of South Main St. and directly to the southwest of Beren Academy. But the pink line is part of a separate 2-acre strip that’s slated for thinning just south of Post Oak Manor. And that’s got some residents there — and in adjacent ‘W’ neighborhoods Willowbend, Willow Meadows, Willowbrook, and Westbury — upset.


08/14/12 1:48pm

A Swamplot reader offers a trade: A few photos of the retention ponds going in north of White Oak Bayou where 6th St. was blocked between Yale and Shepherd (above and below) — in exchange for more details on the park that’s apparently planned for that location, including a scheduled completion date for the construction. “I have no ‘official’ information, only old data and hearsay,” reports the reader. Which includes this map dating from 2010:


08/19/10 2:57pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WEST END WALMART IN DETENTION “. . . The only negative to the city to me has to deal with drainage. The developer (under current city policy) can claim the site was previously developed which means no storm water detention needs to be provided for the tract. The mayor and several other local groups believe that all new large scale development should provide detention regardless of the previous conditions of the site. It’s not an easy policy change to implement even in the strictest of regulatory environments.” [kjb434, commenting on In the Mail: Walmart Gets Its Game on for Central Houston]

05/21/09 4:42pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: I-10 AND BUNKER HILL PAVING REPORT “. . . as someone who lives on Westview and who has lived in the area mentioned (or near it) for 15 years… let me tell you what was paved over. -Ditches on either side of Bunker Hill between Longpoint and Katy freeway. -Old Katy road, which had grass on both sides and a ditch. -A little shop (maybe a car dealership I dont remember) that was on an island between both sides of bunker hill, dirt and green was taken from there -the already mentioned quarry which was NOT all pavement. I went there often and it was very much dirt. Cars would get stuck there when it rained. -The daniel area that was also not all paved where those new apartments are (where there is standing water when it DOESNT rain due to poor drainage). This is not a flooding that hasnt happened in 20 years, the houses here are much older than 20 years… these houses are 50+ years old and it has NEVER happened.” [Alma, commenting on The Detention Battle of Bunker Hill: Flooding Above the New Katy Freeway]

05/19/09 10:20am

MORE PONDS, HUGGING BAYOUS Houston will spend $30 million in the upcoming fiscal year on detention ponds like those built under Project Brays. “About $20 million in federal Hurricane Ike relief money and $10 million in city capital improvements funding will be used to buy land and design and build basins that can hold hundreds of acre feet of water when the bayous become full, [Mayor] White said. City officials are evaluating sites along the Hunting, Greens, White Oak, and Halls bayous for new detention basins, said Andy Icken, deputy director of the Public Works and Engineering Department.” [Houston Chronicle]

05/19/09 10:08am

Some residents of Long Point Woods are blaming the new and well-paved 48-acre Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center along the north feeder road of the expanded Katy Freeway for the late-April flooding that damaged many homes between Bunker Hill Rd. and Blalock, south of Westview. Abc13’s Miya Shay reports, opting not to mention the neighborhood or the development by name:

[Resident Barbara] Hunt says homeowners grew worried when a large development along I-10 and Bunker Hill [was] allowed to be built without additional retention, and when heavy rain fell, it ran off the parking lots and into their homes. . . .

But Mayor White says the developers didn’t get special treatment because the property was already covered in asphalt before the developers bought the land and began building.

“If something is built, and somebody buys it from somebody where it already has some paved over and is already developed, we don’t have new detention requirements,” said Mayor White.


01/08/09 9:28am

The high point of River Oaks Examiner reporter Rusty Graham’s tour of Project Brays, where flood control is measured in Astrodomes: sheep — on an actual hill — overlooking Brays Bayou flood-reduction projects at the Eldridge Road basin.

The group arrives at the Eldridge detention basin, at the end of Westpark. Harris County Precinct 3 is developing Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Park at the facility, which is about 45 percent complete.

Eldridge is the largest of the four basins, with a total area of 337 acres. Eldridge will hold 1.5 billion gallons of stormwater when complete, or nearly three Astrodomes.

One of the highlights of the trip is seeing the sheep on a large hill on the west side of the Eldridge basin. The 60-foot hill is built from dirt excavated on site.

The sheep lived in the area before the site was purchased, says Heather Saucier, spokeswoman for the flood district. They’re tended by an area resident, although on this day they seem to be doing well enough on their own.

The hill’s summit offers a commanding view of the area, and is especially impressive looking back towards the Uptown area to the east.

Photo: River Oaks Examiner