That Naked Spot on White Oak Bayou

A reader sends this stitched-together panorama of the Heights bike trail spanning White Oak Bayou and wonders what’s going on with all the denuding: “This is kitty corner from where the proposed Emes Place condos will go. Mother nature swamped their work in the bayou with the recent rains. They appear to be taking revenge by bulldozing the nearby clump of forest. This is a larger piece of bird/homeless person sanctuary than the tract Emes Place is to be on, so I wonder what the story is. Harris County Flood Control comes by the site all the time, but I can’t find any mention of it on their website, or anywhere.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

17 Comment

  • I noticed that work too. Tearing down trees along a bayou makes no snese to me. What else will hold the bank together? Oh yeah, more concrete.

  • Might this be the retention pond that is part of the I-10 project?

  • At least they’re only (so far) removing vegetation along the upper rim of the concrete. Any possibility we might get all that concrete removed someday?

  • Remove all the concrete? That’s not going to happen. Too much danger of the banks failing in a flood event with high flow. The concrete keeps the scouring at the base to a minimum. Especially on the outside of the curves.

  • That is on the inside of the curve, but you don’t have to remove all the concrete to repair it. And you don’t have to do anything to it to improve the contour of the bank for flood control.

    Tearing down trees along a bayou can make a lot of sense if you are trying to increase temporary capacity during flood events.

  • Removing trees, then channelizing and concreting streams does get water flowing downstream faster. However, in so doing, it also tends to worsen flooding downstream.

    If only Galveston Bay — rather than downtown Houston — were downstream, it wouldn’t be a concern.

    Even by the 70s, environmental geologists realized that this method of flood control wasn’t as perfect as it was originally thought.

  • The areas where the concrete is completely removed is to allow the excavators to go down the bank to work. They did that near the T C Jester bridge as well. I suppose the only way to get an answer is to call the Flood Control District’s public affairs flack.

  • It’s detention for the I-10 expansion project.
    Nothing to do at all with Emes Place.

  • I am pleasantly amazed that people actually care about what’s going on with a bayou.

    20 years ago, this comment and follow-up discussion would not have existed – not a chance in hell.

  • The board at the site entrance on Stude says that it is part of flood control improvements but there is no plan or artists impression from what I remember. I was down there last night and they have now cleared all the vegetation from that side of the bike path. I suspect it will become a detention pond of some sort.

    Eames Pl is planned to be on the other side of the bayou.

  • Guido,

    I also wish the City would remove the concrete in White Oak… if we can’t have that, can they stain the concrete??? A nice earthy tone would at least give the illusion of nature.

  • It would be great if we could remove those concrete walls. They run like huge ugly stretch marks across the city, in addition to being magnets for grafitti.
    Parts of the bayou that run east of IH-45 aren’t full of concrete and the difference, just visually, is amazing.

  • I doubt that there is enough width there by the freeway to allow for any concrete removal. Erosion would be too much of a concern.

    I know it’s not ideal as it is now but my kids and I go down onto the banks and enjoy nature just fine right now. Does it look like an idyllic rural scene, no. Is it full of fish and waterfowl and turtles that they can watch, yes.

    I would rather they continue to focus their energy on the ongoing beautification of the greenspace around the bayou than sink money into making the concrete a nicer color. At the end of the day you are always going to be at the base of a freeway piling anyway.

    That being said, the detention pond does worry me as it is likely to be a concrete lined hole. Would be very interested to see some kind of plan.

  • It is not a detention basin for I-10. TxDOT did an environmental impact analysis for the proposed detention basins and everything proposed was west of Yale St.
    The concrete walls were put in mainly to help straighten the bayou and move water out faster. We now know that detaining water (as the bayous do well in their natural state) is a better flood control measure that sending water as fast as possible down to a full Galveston Bay does. Removing the concrete at this point would not help the bayou do a better job of detaining water.
    There has been talk by those associated with the Bayou Greenways initiative of doing some beautification on the concrete, like having artists paint some designs.
    I do not know what is going on at this site, but it sure looks like they are intending to do some widening at this point to create some more holding capacity. Same sort of work is going on on Buffalow Bayou by the police memorial.

  • I wish they would remove the concrete to make it more beautiful. Then maybe the city could release some dragons and unicorns to add an aura of mystic to the city’s dank and sometimes dreary bayous.

  • It was interesting to watch the early stages of this project to realize how much of the fill in that hill was concrete and other rubble.

  • Well I think it is pretty clear now that it is a detention basin of some sort. They have dug down to about the depth of the bayou leaving what looks like will be a spillway for it to fill once the bayou level gets high enough. They are building a second pond on the South side of the bayou as it runs through Stude Park. You can’t really see it as it on the less accessible side but you can see where they have been trucking out the dirt pretty clearly from the bike path.