T.C. Jester Stormwater Detention Basin K500-23-00

T.C. Jester Stormwater Detention Basin K500-23-00

Last Modified: 10/02/2020 01:35 PM

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September 15, 2020 – Harris County Commissioners Court authorized a $1,225 agreement for preliminary excavation of the T.C. Jester Stormwater Detention Basin west of T.C. Jester Boulevard.

April 21, 2020 - Initial cultural and environmental assessments completed.

April 6, 2020 - Temporarily closures for construction safety reasons begin as part of additional environmental assessments of the future basin site.

March 10, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized negotiations with an engineering firm for preliminary engineering in support of this project.

March 2020 - Additional environmental assessments began on the site.

December 17, 2019 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized and initiated this project, and added the Unit Number K500-23-00 to the Flood Control District’s stormwater management system.

November 2019 - Wetlands identified and mapped; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers verification ongoing; habitat evaluated to determine the potential for protected species.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

This project will develop a stormwater detention basin on approximately 171.5 acres of Flood Control District-owned property at T.C. Jester Boulevard and Cypress Creek, south of Cypresswood Drive.

The purpose of this project is to construct a stormwater detention basin on the main stem of Cypress Creek, which will work to reduce flooding risks and damages during heavy rain events by safely storing excess stormwater and slowly releasing it back to the creek when the threat of flooding has passed. A multi-phased engineering, design and construction approach is expected to begin in the area west of T.C. Jester Boulevard and later expand to include the area east of T.C. Jester Boulevard.

This is one of several stormwater detention projects the Flood Control District is developing in the Cypress Creek watershed. A regional drainage study for the watershed found that flooding along tributaries of Cypress Creek is predominately caused by stormwater from a rising Cypress Creek backing up into tributaries, rather than a lack of sufficient stormwater conveyance/drainage capacity on the tributaries themselves. Therefore, stormwater detention basins could be a beneficial project to reduce that backwater issue.

The regional drainage study described here recommends nearly 25,000 acre-feet of additional stormwater detention in the watershed. (Link to www.hcfcd.org/CI-035)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns the property south of Cypresswood Drive at T.C. Jester Boulevard on Cypress Creek?

The Harris County Flood Control District acquired this property for floodplain preservation (to avoid it being commercially developed) and for future flood risk reduction projects.

Why has it not been developed for flood risk reduction until now?

The Flood Control District’s first priority was to acquire this property, which borders on Cypress Creek, and preserve it from development. The 2018 HCFCD Bond Program has now provided needed funding to design and build a flood risk reduction project on the property.

What is the plan for this property?

The Flood Control District intends to develop the property as a stormwater detention basin to reduce flooding risks in the Cypress Creek watershed. Stormwater detention basins are large excavated areas that take in and temporarily store stormwater from bayous and channels during heavy rain events, slowly releasing the stormwater back to the bayou or channel as water levels in the bayou or channel recede.

There are separate plans for portions of the property west and east of T.C. Jester Boulevard. These plans would run on different timelines, with different activities in each area. Progress on these plans is contingent on available funding and Harris County Commissioners Court approval at various stages of the project lifecycle.

West of TC Jester Boulevard

  • The Flood Control District is planning to award an excavation and removal (E&R) contract for this section of our property, to clear trees and vegetation, and excavate and remove an optimum volume of soil.

  • Construction is estimated to commence in the summer of 2020. However, this schedule depends on outside factors.

  • In an E&R contract, the Flood Control District would provide a general excavation layout, avoiding federally protected wetlands and other sensitive areas. The E&R firm would perform initial excavation within that limited footprint.

  • By allowing a willing E&R contractor to appropriately use material excavated at the site, implementation of an E&R project helps reduce future construction costs, as compared with typical excavation and disposal costs which are increasing across Harris County.

  • Once the E&R contract is approved, and due to heavy equipment, that will be operating on-site, we plan to restrict access to the site. This will impact public use of the site.

  • The exact duration of the excavation and removal project has not yet been determined; however, such projects typically continue for at least three years.

  • At a later date, an engineering firm would be hired to design the final basin layout, and a construction contract would be awarded to complete excavation to that design, producing a fully functional stormwater detention basin.

East of TC Jester Boulevard

  • In May 2020, following Harris County Commissioners Court approval of an agreement with an engineering consultant, the Flood Control District initiated the Preliminary Engineering stage for this section of its property. This stage of engineering will result in a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) that includes three alternatives for a stormwater detention basin and a recommendation of the most beneficial alternative.

  • Due to on-site studies that are required during preliminary engineering, the Flood Control District plans to temporarily restrict public access to the site at various intervals and remove any items from the site that could impede our studies.

  • During the Preliminary Engineering stage, the Flood Control District will schedule a Community Engagement Meeting at which the PER alternatives are presented, and public input is taken, recorded, and evaluated for project consideration. This Community Engagement Meeting typically takes place before the PER is finalized and sent to Harris County Commissioners Court.

  • During the Design stage, additional studies will be required that will also result in the need to coordinate to temporarily restrict public access and remove items that could impede our activities.

  • The Design stage could also include clearing some trees/vegetation.

  • During the Construction stage, when the chosen alternative is excavated, the site will not be open to the public

The property currently includes off-road bike trails and other features. What will happen to those?

There is no existing written agreement for use of this property by any other group or agency. The property was purchased with tax dollars for flood risk reduction purposes. The Flood Control District intends to design and build a much-needed stormwater detention basin on this property. The Flood Control District’s mission does not include recreation. However, the Flood Control District supports the multi-use of its property for recreational and other compatible uses, when appropriate, and works frequently with third-party sponsors who want to finance and maintain those amenities while maximizing the property’s primary flood risk reduction purpose.

Activities during preliminary engineering, design and construction will likely require closing and/or clearing various portions of the property of trees, vegetation and any encroaching structures. Because those activities often require the use of heavy equipment, portions of the property would be closed as needed to public access.

The Flood Control District is open to discussions with third-party sponsors who wish to build or rebuild compatible recreational amenities on the property, post-construction. The Flood Control District has briefed the Greater Houston Off-Road Bicycling Association on its plans and encouraged the group to communicate its desires for including recreational amenities that are compatible with the property’s primary flood risk reduction purpose.

What will the basin look like?

Major features of the future basin will be evaluated during the Preliminary Engineering stage, which began in May 2020 for the property east of T.C. Jester. During this stage, the Flood Control District will present the results of the preliminary engineering during a Community Engagement Meeting with the public and consider comments and suggestions from the public about the project. Following the Community Engagement Meeting, input from the public will be considered, and a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) that recommends one alternative for design will be presented to Harris County Commissioners Court.

Among questions to be answered that could affect the final basin design:

  • What streams, wetlands and other sensitive areas must be protected and avoided in the future design of this project, in accordance with federal environmental regulations?
  • What utilities cross the property and what are the costs and benefits of avoiding or relocating those utilities?
  • Do natural (hydrologic/hydraulic) conditions of the property require that the basin be designed as dry most of the time, or can it be designed with permanent pools that can help maximize the capacity of the basin to hold stormwater, and help improve stormwater quality?
  • Given those restraints and considerations, what stormwater detention basin footprint and design would bring the maximum benefits in flood risk reduction?
  • What post-construction reforestation will be recommended?

Public Information Session

The T.C. Jester Stormwater Detention Basin and the Westador Stormwater Detention Basin are both included in applications for federal funding through the Community Development Block Grant for Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) Program. A virtual Public Information Session to discuss both projects was held on:

Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The official public comment period for the CDBG-MIT applications will be open from October 3 – October 16, 2020. We encourage residents to learn more about the application process, submit a comment and view the meeting presentation and video:

Information on CDBG-MIT Virtual Meeting Video Presentation