Flood Control Measure
With heavy storms predicted, and flooding throughout the San Jacinto River watershed, authorities this week ordered a permanent reduction in the level of water in Lake Houston.
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin announced that after a meeting held Monday with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the daily pooling level of Lake Houston will be reduced from 42.5 feet to 40 feet, effective immediately. Last night, Houston Public Works Director, Carol Haddock, directed the Coastal Water Authority to start lowering the level of Lake Houston in advance of Wednesday’s predicted storms. Council Member Martin has confirmed that all gates at Lake Houston are open and the level of Lake Houston is anticipated to reach the desired 40 foot mark by Wednesday evening.
Once the lake is lowered to 40 feet it is the City of Houston’s plan to adjust the spillway gates to maintain a level of 40 feet moving forward on a long-term basis. This will address the immediate concerns of the Lake Houston Community, including Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, and Huffman. This lower lake level will continue to be observed while the City works with area partners to address siltation and other coordination efforts with Lake Conroe. The City of Houston will continue to monitor and evaluate water demand, weather patterns and other mitigation activities.
Tuesday Harris County Commissioner’s Court will vote to authorize requests for qualifications (RFQ) for engineering and other services to identify watershed-wide flood risks, evaluate food mitigation strategies that address those risks and develop recommendations to enhance the flood warning system and action plans used by the emergency managers in the San Jacinto River Basin from its headwaters in Lake Houston across Harris County Precincts 1, 2, and 4. Harris County will be working with the San Jacinto River Authority as well as other municipalities to accomplish this task which was a part of Governor Greg Abbott’s charges for the region.
Additionally, Harris County will also be requesting authorization for RFQs for engineering, environmental permitting, and other services in support of dredging the West Fork of the San Jacinto River from IH-59 to Lake Houston Parkway. This was another of Governor Abbott’s charges during his visit to the Kingwood Area. All parties are committed to working together to swiftly move the dredging project forward in preparation for this year’s hurricane season.
Council Member Martin has been working diligently over the last few weeks to make sure the efforts of dredging are not short lived. The visit of Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, and continued communication with the Governor’s office have allowed the city to partner with the Aggregate Production Operators (APO) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The continued interest and participation of statewide leaders helps local efforts by assisting in identifying red tape and providing solutions to these obstacles. Next Tuesday, April 3, a visit from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is planned, who has expressed an interest in touring the San Jacinto Watershed by air and water.
These state partnerships allow us the opportunity to closely evaluate existing regulations for sand mining as well as the ability to increase the strength of these existing policies. The regional APOs have stepped up to the table and want to be a part of the solution. Texas Senator Brandon Creighton and Texas State Representative Dan Huberty continue to be champions for stricter sand mining regulations to protect our watershed.
The problem of flooding within the San Jacinto Watershed is a difficult one to tackle due to the size of the watershed and many jurisdictions involved but Council Member Martin is creating relationships where none have existed before and knows that working together will get us further along the path to a long term solution.