Sep 27, 2018

Sediment Removal Begins in West Fork of San Jacinto River

USACE seeks to restore the watershed to pre-Harvey conditions by April 2019 through sediment removal

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins San Jacinto River sediment removal project
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins San Jacinto River sediment removal project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began dredging the west fork of the San Jacinto River to remove sediment deposited by Hurricane Harvey. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded project is focusing on a 2-mile area near the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge and seeks to remove 1.8 million cu yards of sediment from the waterway.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the $68.9 million project aims to restore the San Jacinto River to pre-Harvey condition by April 2019. The two dredges being used weigh approximately 27 tons each and booster pumps will remove material from the dredges through 4.5 miles of a 24-in. pipeline.

“The dredge is on station and working to remove debris to help reduce flood risks,” said Army Corps Engineer Alton Meyer in a statement.

Some environmentalists point to sand mining firms along the waterway as a major contributor to excess sediment in the waterway. However, sand mining industry leaders argue their operations are not responsible for the sedimentation in the river, but are open to a “common-sense approach” to regulation.

“I’m happy to announce that after several weather delays and some mechanical delays earlier this week, that dredges are in the water,” said Houston City Council Member Dave Martin. “The Galveston District, USACE is conducting this project and it is expected to continue through the end of April 2019.”

The Harris County Flood Control District intends to spend $367 million in bond funds on 13 projects in the San Jacinto River watershed. This dredging project is separate from the $2.5 billion flood bond Harris County, Texas, voters passed in August, which will go towards 237 flood control projects and marks the county’s largest ever local investment in flood infrastructure. Projects include channel improvements, storm water detention basins, drainage infrastructure, sediment removal, voluntary buyouts and wetland restoration.