Harris County Flood Control District will launch the first phase of a multi-million-dollar maintenance project in November 2018 to selectively clear trees, remove vegetative debris and improve stormwater flow along Cedar Bayou from Interstate Highway 10 to near Huffman-Eastgate Road.
This relatively rural bayou forms the eastern boundary of Harris County with Chambers and Liberty counties. The Flood Control District has conducted selective clearing over the last few years along forested tributaries of Cedar Bayou within Harris County and recently completed a post-Hurricane Harvey debris removal effort which – on Cedar Bayou – focused mainly on removing channel debris near major bridge crossings. This new effort will involve a comprehensive selective clearing of the main Cedar Bayou channel itself.
With Harris County Commissioners Court approval, a $500,000 first phase of the project from IH-10 to just south of the Liberty/Chambers County line will begin in November and last about two months. This phase includes nearly 8 miles of Cedar Bayou and will be funded through the Flood Control District’s annual operations and maintenance budget.
A 14.5-mile second phase of the selective clearing project, from near the Liberty/Chambers county line to the Huffman/Eastgate area, will follow in 2019 and is estimated to cost approximately $1 million, for a total project cost estimated at approximately $1.5 million.
Legislation creating the Flood Control District in 1937 authorizes the agency to devise plans to reduce flood damages and to remove natural or artificial obstructions from channels and bayous. The Flood Control District either owns property in fee or holds drainage easements along both banks of Cedar Bayou through the project area. In areas with limited public access, the Flood Control District may seek a temporary right of entry from adjacent landowners to reach the channel.
Selective clearing involves identifying and removing downed trees or trees at imminent risk of failure along forested bayous and drainage channels. The work in the channel and on channel slopes is performed by hand, using chainsaws, machetes and ropes. Contractors travel the channel mostly on foot. A secondary focus of this operation is to leave as much of the native understory as possible, while providing maintenance access and clearing non-native species. This practice helps maintain or restore the channel’s ability to convey stormwater, and promotes a more native shade canopy that will require minimal maintenance.