It’s been six months since the Houston area endured the torrential rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, and the area of northeast Houston – including Humble, Kingwood and Lake Houston – were among the hardest hit areas, with homes and businesses still recovering.
On Monday, Feb. 26, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin, State Rep. Dan Huberty, and State Sen. Brandon Creighton met with City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city leaders to follow up on previous discussions regarding the immediate needs of the Lake Houston area ahead of a planned town hall meeting in Kingwood on March 6.
“These discussions happened to coincide with the rain that occurred over the past weekend which further highlighted the urgency of needed remediation,” Martin said in a news release.
Some of the issues discussed included dredging of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston, construction of additional gates at the Lake Houston Spillway Dam, calling for the City of Houston to release water from Lake Houston, and creation of a pre-release protocol during inclement weather for both Lake Houston and Lake Conroe.
“We don’t want to spend too much time focusing on the past, but we certainly don’t want the past to visit us again.” - Mayor Sylvester Turner
In light of the recent rain received and presence
of rain forecasted in Lake Houston over the next week, Martin, Huberty and Creighton adamantly requested a decrease in the Lake Houston levels to prevent any potential flooding issues.
Turner agreed and asked Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock to contact the Coastal Water Authority and begin to release water from Lake Houston as soon as possible.
Since Harvey, businesses and homes have slowly recovered, but the waterways are still recovering.
Sandbars and silt build up have formed in areas of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston, which could make the potential for flooding worse if another heavy rain event moves through the region.
The Department of Transportation will be closing areas of Interstate 69 south over the San Jacinto River to reinforce the weight-bearing bridge over the river, which should be completed before the end of the summer.
However, city leaders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still have a lot of work to do as far as recovery efforts and potential dredging of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston.
Steve Costello, Houston chief resiliency officer, was asked by Turner to expedite the completion of a bathymetric and topographic study of both waterways.
The data from these studies will allow the city to package a siltation removal plan that will reduce the potential impact of future flooding.
This data will be compiled as a request for funding and submitted to the Texas Water Development Board.
Local leaders are also asking the board to add eight to 10 new gates to the existing gated spillway at Lake Houston, which would allow increased discharge from Lake Houston and reduce the impact of very large flood events.
The cost of the new flood gates is estimated to be $47 million.
“It is important for the San Jacinto River and Coastal Water Authorities to work in tandem in an effort to maximize the effects of lowering lake levels in advance of storms,” Martin said.