Recently, State Representative Dan Huberty, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin and State Senator Brandon Creighton met with City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to follow up on previous discussions regarding the immediate needs of the Lake Houston area. Other key City of Houston officials participating in this meeting included: Carol Haddock, Director of Houston Public Works, Stephen Costello, Chief Resiliency Officer, and Bill Kelly, Government Relations. These discussions happened to coincide with the rain that occurred over this past weekend which further highlighted the urgency of needed remediation.
Agenda items for this meeting included the 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.
In light of the recent rain received and presence of rain forecasted in Lake Houston over the next week, the first item addressed was lowering the level of Lake Houston. Representative Huberty, Council Member Martin, and Senator Creighton were adamant in their request to decrease the Lake level immediately. Upon hearing this grave concern, Mayor Turner ordered the Public Works Director to contact the Coastal Water Authority and begin to release water from Lake Houston as soon as possible.
Mayor Turner then listened to accounts from Representative Huberty, Council Member Martin, and Senator Creighton regarding the newly developed islands and sandbars within the River and Lake which now exacerbate flooding in the region. In response, Mayor Turner requested Costello to expedite the completion of a bathymetric and topographic study of both the River and Lake. Data provided from these studies will allow the City to package a siltation removal plan that will assist in reducing the affects of future flooding. This data will be compiled as a request for funding and submitted to the Texas Water Development Board.
Additionally, Council Member Martin outlined a recent technical memorandum to Harris County Engineer, John Blount, regarding the feasibility of utilizing Lake Houston as a Flood Control Facility, which was presented as a transmittal during the February 13 Harris County Commissioner's Court Agenda. This memorandum proposed the addition of eight to ten new gates to the existing gated spillway at Lake Houston. These additional gates would allow increased discharge from Lake Houston reducing the impact of very large flood events. The cost of the new gates is estimated to be $47 million. Mayor Turner tasked Costello with submitting a funding proposal to the Texas Water Development Board for the expedited construction of the additional gates in response to this agenda item.
Lastly, Representative Huberty, Council Member Martin, and Senator Creighton along with Mayor Turner agreed that further discussion is needed in order to create pre-release protocols for Lake Houston and Lake Conroe. 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.
Representative Huberty will be speaking at Council Member Martin's upcoming Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 6 PM, at the Kingwood Community Center (4102 Rustic Woods, Kingwood, TX 77345). More details regarding the agenda items mentioned above will be provided at that time.