FEMA, Army Corp will begin dredging Kingwood mouthbar in July

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Photo: Mark Mulligan, Staff Photographer / Staff Photographer

Posted July 8, 2019

Contractors continue to stage equipment for the Army Corps of Engineers' planned dredging of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River east of Highway 59, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 in Humble. 30,000 feet of pipe will be used to extract dredging material from the river.

The notorious mouthbar — a buildup of sand and sediment deposited in the San Jacinto River that could increase flooding — has become a very touchy subject for those who live near Lake Houston, especially in Kingwood.

Local, state and federal officials are nearing a solution after months of negotiations.

Dredging of the mouthbar will begin by the end of July, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Galveston District.

The full cost and amount of sediment to be removed is still being determined, said Stephen Costello, the City of Houston’s Chief Resiliency Officer. The mouthbar dredging project modifies the contract of an existing $70 million dredging project currently underway in the San Jacinto River.

Although Houston originally budgeted the project at $40 million, Costello said the city continues to negotiate with FEMA and the USACE about how much of the debris resulted from Harvey.

Under FEMA’s Stafford Act, which will be used to fund the additional dredging, the entity is only authorized to provide monies for the removal of sand and sediment that came from a natural disaster, such as Harvey.

However, the USACE released a statement on June 10 saying they have executed a modification to the West Fork of the San Jacinto River’s emergency debris removal contract to dredge an additional 497,400 cubic yards of material that was deposited in the mouth of the river from Hurricane Harvey.

“This contract modification will ensure a decrease in threats to critical infrastructure and lower the risk to potential loss of life,” said Charles Wheeler, USACE Galveston District project manager in the release. “This is an ongoing contract that is part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignment.”

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin and Costello are working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management and continue to engage with FEMA and the Corps to further expand mouthbar modifications, Martin said in a statement.

Back in April, Costello said he was awaiting the results from the Stockton Survey that was done on the San Jacinto River to determine which debris came from Harvey. The information was provided to the TDEM and FEMA and will be publicized after he receives feedback from the organizations, he said.

Wheeler added that it was at the request of FEMA that the Corps will execute the modification for the additional dredging of the mouthbar. The contractor appointed to dredge the river is waiting on additional pipeline and the additional dredging will start by the end of the July.

The modification edits a $70 million dredging project that removed nearly 2 million cubic yards of debris from the West Fork San Jacinto River around Kingwood. The debris was removed from between River Grove Park and east of the West Lake Houston Parkway bridge.

With the modifications made to the emergency debris removal contract, demobilization has been pushed back from the end of 2019 to early 2020. The project was originally scheduled to be complete this summer.

Source: chron.com