A schematic rendering of the study area for the Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis, one of the many ongoing flood mitigation efforts in the Greater Houston area.

On Dec. 17, the San Jacinto Regional Watershed Master Drainage Plan (SJMDP), led by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), along its local partners – Montgomery County, the City of Houston, and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), hosted the first open house within a series of public open houses that were created for local residents to come out and provide feedback regarding the flood mitigation efforts taking place around them.

“We are hosting a series of meetings to share the drainage analysis that is taking place within the San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan. We appreciate the public coming out and sharing any input they may have with regards to the projects taking place; public input helps us gather the data we need to move these projects forward. The quicker we get community feedback, the quicker we will be able to design the necessary projects that will better protect communities,” said Rob Lazaro, communications officer for HCFCD.

According to their website, the San Jacinto Regional Watershed Master Drainage Plan “is a comprehensive regional plan led by local partners. The SJMDP is funded jointly with 75% from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning Program conveyed through the Texas Department of Emergency Management and 25% from four local partners [listed above].”

Representatives from nearly a dozen local flood mitigation projects in the nearby region attended the open house, answering any questions that the public had and receiving feedback.

Among those in attendance were representatives from the Huffman Area Drainage Analysis effort, which seeks to “provide recommendations to achieve a 100-year level of service (within the project area).” Jennifer Hundl, project manager of EHRA, provided an update on the mitigation efforts taking place within the scope of the project. “Since July, we have taken the feedback that we received (through our hosting of several open houses) and we have finalized our report. Our report has been accepted by HCFCD as complete. We are here today in support of the SJMDP – we are in between the stage of feasibility and are moving into the preliminary engineering report,” said Hundl. For more information regarding this project, visit ourtribune.com/headlines/22255.

Representatives working on the Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis were also present. “(Bond Project F-14) is one of the many bond projects that focuses on identifying the drainage problems within the Kingwood area. Effectively, we are evaluating the drainage areas so that we can determine where water levels rise, and we are evaluating the capacity of the bayous and the open channels in the Kingwood area. Once we identify issues, we must then conduct a [cost-benefit analysis],” said Gary Bezemek, feasibility studies manager for HCFCD.

“Countywide, we have obtained LIDAR [a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges] to create a 3-D topographical surface that lets us estimate different amounts of rainfall as well as how it reaches local bayous,” said Bezemek.

Jason Wilkinson, special projects coordinator for HCFCD, discussed some of the in-house efforts taking place to address flooding across the Kingwood area. “Following the drastic flooding events of Hurricane Harvey and the May flooding event, Special Projects was tasked with physically walking through all 32.3 miles of channels and conducting a visual assessment, documenting our results using our GIS software. We identified several de-snag and de-silt opportunities to focus on,” said Wilkinson.

A de-snag is the removal of “a fallen or dead tree which occur due to rain events,” and a de-silt is the removal of “an area that has siltation, which is an area that tends to be clogged by dirt and vegetation,” said Wilkinson.

“We identified opportunities to conduct these projects in-house—we originally had 36 projects that we identified which we have decreased to four,” added Wilkinson.

“This event represents a continuation of the work that the City of Houston and HCFCD have been doing to address the problems that we have in Kingwood. HCFCD is aiming to restore the flow of water within Kingwood channels in order to meet previous levels. The operations that we are undertaking (such as our de-snagging operations) aim for a flow of water that moves in a systematic approach from the interior of Kingwood to the San Jacinto River,” said City Councilmember Dave Martin, who was in attendance.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Luce Bayou Watershed Planning Study, Cedar Bayou Tributary Analysis, SJRA-led Projects, City of Houston-led Projects, and the Harris County Engineering Department-Recovery and Resiliency Division, which all rendered their support for the overall SJMDP study and effort.

“The study website is the best way for those interested to get involved,” added Lazaro. To get involved, visit sanjacstudy.org. For more information regarding the Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis, visit hcfcd.org/F14. For more information regarding the Huffman Area Drainage Analysis, visit hcfcd.org/F110. For more information regarding the Cedar Bayou Tributary Analysis, visit hcfcd.org/F44, F45 & F68.

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