The Plug Has Been Pulled; Low-Lying West U Can Relax and Drain Now

Poor Farm Ditch Restrictor, Holcombe Blvd. at Edloe St., West University, Texas

Poor Farm Ditch Restrictor, Holcombe Blvd. at Edloe St., West University, Texas. . . Well, at least as long as Brays Bayou is able to handle whatever rains come. Late last month, an excavator (pictured above) yanked out the last piece of a 3-year-old 6-ft.-by-6-ft. concrete panel used as a “restrictor” and meant to make sure rainwater that fell in West U stayed in West U for a good long time. The restrictor (shown in place blocking the right side of the drainage channel pictured at left) had been put in place by the Harris County Flood Control District after West U, working with the city of Southside Place and Metro, completed $8 million worth of drainage improvements in 2010 on the colorfully named Poor Farm Ditch, which drains along the east side of Edloe St. through much of West University and further south to Brays Bayou. Those improvements had been meant to solve West U’s frequent flooding problems. But without some place for the water to go, that solution for West U might have caused flooding elsewhere downstream. So the district placed the restrictor on Poor Farm Ditch on the south side of the Edloe St. bridge across Holcombe St. — until the city could somehow come up with 13.5 acre-ft. of flood detention to hold the runoff.

With flood improvements completed but the restrictor still causing water to back up on Poor Farm Ditch, West U flooded again in January 2012 after a hard rain.


West U purchased 4.4 acre-ft. of detention from the district in 2011, for $403,700. Last year, after West U leaders smoothed over ruffled feathers in an ongoing conflict with county government over the problem, the district came to the determination that it had somehow ended up with an additional 9.1 acre-ft. of detention available — in the city of Houston’s “Meyer tract” detention facility inside the West Loop. Harris County commissioners approved the sale of that capacity to West U for $834,925 early last month; days later, the city hand-delivered a check.

Residents who harbor fond memories of West U’s long and rich history of flooding events needn’t worry that the city’s water-logged days will now be lost forever, however. City manager Michael Ross tells Instant News West U that residents can still expect to see water in the streets, even if Brays Bayou doesn’t get backed up: “The streets were rebuilt to detain water in an extreme event storm. All of that was designed to hold water so it doesn’t get into homes. This will not eliminate street ponding. And cars will flood every time there is a storm of sufficient duration and intensity, if they are in the street.”

Photos: Instant News West U

The Rich Floodwaters of Poor Farm Ditch

7 Comment

  • Now we wait and see what happens down stream–like Braeswood place–along the bayou and getting the flow from West U too.

  • Exactly, that water has to go somewhere, however they’ve spent millions on improvements to the Bayou, it’s much improved.

  • I’m curious as to whether or not the restrictor that was put on the Brays Bayou outlet (near Stella Link) was ever removed. Whenever there’s a hard rain, the noth-to-south street of Braes Blvd. fills with water (Braes Blvd. runs parallel to Stella Link and is one block east) and woe to anyone who has left their car parked on Braes Blvd.

    Also, the Poor Farm Ditch was named for the old Harris County Poor Farm that was (ironically) located where Southside now is. Yes, there really was a “Poor Farm” in Houston where indigent elderly and disable people lived and worked in the fields. In 1921 Harris County decided this land was too valuable for a poor farm and sold it to a developer who went on to build the city of Southside.

    This map shows where the Poor Farm was located:

  • Flooding will never be “solved” in this city. It is a continuous cat and mouse game.

  • Restrictors, what a concept. I seem to recall two villages fighting in Memorial last year over one being installed and flooding the upstream meighborhood.

  • Don’t think it will make that much difference. Braes wood place was already being flooded by sheet flow from west u anyway.