Jennifer Carney (second from left), owner of Carney’s Tutoring, welcomed, from left, Matt Barrett, division engineer for the Flood Management Division of the San Jacinto River Authority; Tiffany Avila, owner of The Hometown Chef Catering Company; and Douglas Chung, recently named assistant administrator at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood to Kingwood BizCom. Photo by Tom Broad

- Kingwood BizCom attendees encouraged to claim drain, clean it - 

Kingwood has miles and miles of storm drains waiting to be adopted – and named.

Jessica Beemer, Houston City Councilmember Dave Martin’s chief of staff, was dead serious when she told Kingwood BizCom attendees they could prevent future flooding, save taxpayer dollars and keep Kingwood’s storm drains clean and litter free by adopting one.

“Anyone can adopt a drain; individuals, families, youth organizations, large and small businesses, civic and non-profit organizations,” Beemer said Dec. 5 at the Lake Houston Chamber’s Kingwood BizCom at Kingwood Park High School. “It’s easy. Go to the website, houstonadoptadrain.org, enter your street address to search for a storm drain, claim your drain, and give it a name.”

Beemer shared big-screen photos of recent drains in Elm Grove and Hunter’s Ridge viewed for blockage, some 75,000 linear feet of drains so far.

“As you can see, most of the drains we’ve looked at are pretty clear,” she said, pointing to the multiple drain photos. “If you see a city crew with their equipment peering into the drains, visit with them. They’ll show you what they’re finding. They’re expecting you to be curious and see what they’re up to.”

After at least three major flood events in three years, Beemer said residents need to keep their eyes open and report any unusual flooding.

“Kingwood storm drains were built to handle 1 to 2 inches of rain per hour and it should be gone from the streets in four hours or less,” Beemer said. “If water is still in the streets after four hours, call the city’s 3-1-1 help line. Explain what happened, get a service request number, then call our office, 832-393-3008. We’ll take it from there.”

Among multiple projects related to flooding and water mitigation, Beemer reported on two additional projects that are being closely watched by Martin, the Lake Houston Spillway Dam Improvement Project and Northpark Drive West Expansion.

“We’re in the first phase of expanding the gates on Lake Houston,” she said. “We’re working with Harris County Flood Control to procure a consultant and begin the engineering and design. It will continue for a year. The second phase includes the bid process and construction is expected to begin as soon as the city receives state funding, optimistically in 2021.”

The new gates are expected to be complete in 2022.

Beemer also encouraged residents to attend a public meeting Feb. 6, 2020, 5 p.m., at the Kingwood Community Center for an update on what she termed Kingwood’s first-ever evacuation route, the Northpark Drive West Expansion.

“The road design is in progress and we expect to begin construction in December 2020,” she said.

Beemer also discussed the dredging of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and the dredging of the mouth bar.

“Mayor Turner and Councilmember Martin want to thank Senators Cornyn and Cruz and Congressman Crenshaw as well as the Lake Houston Chamber and their members for their support and letter-writing efforts in encouraging FEMA to continue this dredging project,” she said.

Matt Barrett, engineer for the San Jacinto River Authority, described a new forecasting tool the authority will soon launch for Lake Conroe that would predict future rainfall, measure the actual rainfall and streamflow, and then predict the lake’s peak levels and anticipated water release.

“The information we gather from this tool can be used by cities, the county and other regional partners in their decision-making processes during major or potential water events and will be included in press releases, updates and social media posts during these events,” Barrett said.

Barrett also encouraged residents to learn how watersheds interact with the Lake Houston area by going to the authority’s website, knowyourwatershed.com, to learn what watershed they reside in, then take a “digital tour” of the San Jacinto’s West Fork.

Oscar Ramos discussed two workforce programs Lone Star College operates at their new Process Technology Center campus in Generation Park at Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Parkway.

“We’re offering two programs at the Technology Center,” said Ramos, who is dean of the center and the college’s Atascocita Center, “a process technology degree and an instrumentation technology degree. Both associate degrees are a very intense four semesters long and take about a year and a half.”

Beginning salary is $71-80,000 and 80% of the students who graduated from the program received a job offer before they graduated, Ramos said.

“Huntsman, Chevron, MobileExxon and Entergy are among the companies interested in our students,” he said. “Go to our website, lonestar.edu/process-technology-aas, for more information.”

The next Kingwood BizCom will be held Thursday, April 2, 2020, at Kingwood High School. There is no cost to attend but registration is required. BizComs are held three times a year each for Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita and Summer Creek. To register or for dates and locations, visit lakehouston.org.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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