Dredging of the San Jacinto River will begin soon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Galveston District has awarded the dredging contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to remove sediment and debris from a stretch of the west fork of the San Jacinto River.
This project is the result of months of requests and meetings organized by local residents after Hurricane Harvey, the single worst disaster to hit the Gulf Coast. In the Lake Houston area, Harvey flooded neighborhoods and businesses on both sides of the river for several miles.
The project will involve the removal of 1.8 million cubic yards of material and is expected to take about 270 days to complete at a cost of $69 million.
Bid openings were originally scheduled for May 29 but the corps extended the bidding to June 22 when forecasters doubled their estimates of the amount of debris in the river -- from 748,000 cubic yards to 1.8 million.
The project duration was then changed from 180 to 270 days to accommodate the increase in debris.
Local citizens, since Harvey, have organized various groups to address the flooding issues and many came to a meeting July 10 at Kingwood Park High School. While most are glad to see that the bid has been awarded and that dredging will soon begin, they say there is so much more that needs to be done as the one-year anniversary of Harvey (Harvey made landfall in Texas Aug. 26, 2017) approaches.
To cover some of those other projects, Harris County will present voters with a bond program that amounts to $2.5 billion. The Harris County Flood Control District has been compiling a list of potential projects that could be part of the bond measure. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has previously said that the number of projects would be in the hundreds, and would likely include numerous creek widening projects and a possible third reservoir in northwest Houston.
The flood district has also been obtaining input from Harris County residents by holding 23 public meetings to discuss the bond projects. The 23 meetings correspond to the 23 watersheds in Harris County, including the July 10 meeting at Kingwood Park High School.
Flood district Director of Operations Matt Zeve encouraged Kingwood residents to submit suggestions. “Before tonight, we’ve held 14 of these meetings and have received over 1,000 comments. We’re working our way through them to take all suggestions for the bond,” Zeve said. He encouraged residents to view Kingwood information on the flood district website at hcfcd.org/hurricane-harvey/kingwood-information.
Members of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative, one grassroots group led by Bob Rehak and Dianne Lansden, showed up in droves at the meeting. Rehak says that we have three main needs: dredging, detention and gates. “Detention means we get less water in Kingwood, dredging means more water throughout, and the gates mean water goes out faster,” Rehak said. Landsen said the overarching comment she heard from residents at the meeting was, “When are we going to get those extra gates on Lake Houston?”