Dave Martin, Houston’s city councilman for District E, paid an unexpected visit to the Nov. 13 Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Public Safety Committee to make an important request to KSA and the Kingwood home owner associations.
He said, “ I need your help with some safety issues. Many people, post annexation , think the City of Houston owns everything in Kingwood. I need everyone to get involved and work together on the drainage issue.”
Martin was referring to the drainage ditches and culverts that make up the community’s drainage system. He explained the city was working with the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) on the Bens Branch Cleanout Project now underway that starts at the Kingwood Drive bridge and flows south past the YMCA.
Martin said, “We’re moving equipment this week. We are ready to do ‘desnag’ [clean out the trees and obstructions] and to remediate that confluence to give us more capacity.”
These flood recovery efforts, he said, are not just a city responsibility or the county’s. The effort requires everyone’s help and cooperation.
Martin provided a second example of issues occurring to the north in the drainage areas near St Martha’s Catholic Church and Northpark Drive. He described how the flooding occurred during the Imelda event and explained how all the water to the north of Kingwood coming downstream in the drainage ditch had dammed up behind a Friendswood bridge because the culverts going under it were too few and too small to handle the volume of water. The water diverted into the St. Martha Church parking lot and then through Kingwood where the drainage ditch was clogged with trees and brush. The flooding occurred because too much water, improperly diverted, tried to flow through culverts and drainage ditches that were clogged. They failed to handle the flow of water to the Bens Branch drainage ditch where the major remediation is now underway by the HCFCD. He explained that many of the parking lots in Kingwood are designed to hold sudden onslaughts of water and eventually release it down through the drainage ditches and storm systems.
He said, “So what is happening is it’s not working like that because a lot of these things are clogged. While we remediate Bens Branch, we’re still going to have an issue because the water can’t get from St. Martha or Kids in Action down into Bens Branch and eventually down the San Jacinto into Lake Houston.”
Martin passed around photographs of the clogged ditches and culverts as he continued to speak. “And it is not just one of them. There are many of them all throughout Kingwood and they are not owned by anyone other than the trails associations or the homeowner associations. This is not a city issue or a county issue. This is a Kingwood issue and we need folks to step up and I am appealing to the HOAs and KSA to start stepping up. What we have is culverts all backed up. The culverts are on the trails and they are on the greenbelts. So I am here to appeal for some help. We need to have the HOAs step up and clear these things out so we have the ability to make these channels work the way they should work,” he said.
Martin explained when Kingwood was built there was nothing to the north. Now there is infrastructure and concrete just to the north of Kingwood which makes more water flow faster into Kingwood’s backyard. He said, “So for it to be effective, all the channels must be working to distribute the water as they should.” Martin explained at the same time the culverts and ditches need cleaning out, the City of Houston is working to make sure the storm sewers and drainage systems are also clear.
“We [the City of Houston] have improved our storm drain systems and I would invite any citizen to come see the trucks that are working at our storm sewers,” Martin said. He noted that since September, they have been working in the 12 neighborhoods that flooded in September and also in May. “Every storm drain we have looked at is clear. They are all working as intended.”
He closed his remarks by saying, “While a lot of people are pointing fingers all over the place, everything the city is checking is indicating the storm drains are working. But when you have 28 inches of rain in 24 hours, no one wants to blame God Almighty, but sometimes that stuff happens and the development to the north is making it a real challenge. This is a joint effort and we all have to work together. It’s flood control (HCFCD), Houston, the state and federal government, Kingwood, KSA, the HOAs, all of us to get moving as rapidly as we can. I am begging everyone to start getting involved to make sure we can do it.”
Dee Price of Sand Creek responded on behalf of KSA and the Public Safety Committee to Martin’s plea. She announced that Ethyl McCormick of the Kingwood Management Association is in the process of setting up a meeting of the HOAs and the trails associations to address this challenge as soon as possible. Martin thanked the KSA and the committee for its help in working together on this challenge to the community.
In other business the committee canceled its Dec. 11 meeting as many of the committee members will be absent due to personal holiday-related activities and travel.
The next KSA Public Safety Committee Meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2038 Shadow Rock in Kingwood. The public is invited to attend.