City Bond Election in the Works as Engineering Firm Makes Recommendations for Pine Forest Subdivision Flood Protection

By George Slaughter

Voters in the City of Katy can expect a bond election next spring to pay for needed engineering work to mitigate flood danger.

The bond will coincide with next May’s city election. Mayor Chuck Brawner said he was not sure of what the final figure would be, though he estimated it would be in the $10 million range.

Of this figure, $3.3 million would be earmarked for the four recommendations given to improve the situation in the Pine Forest neighborhood. The remaining money would be used for other, forthcoming recommendations for addressing the flooding problems.

Brawner described the Pine Forest neighborhood as the “bulls-eye” of flooding in the city following Hurricane Harvey.

“You’ve got to start there,” he said.

The neighborhood is bordered by Morton Road on the north, the Magnolia Ditch on the south, Cane Island Branch on the west, and Avenue D on the east.

On Tuesday night, engineers from Costello, Inc., the firm hired to make recommendations for reducing future flooding problems, made their recommendations.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Improve the Magnolia Ditch by removing all existing trees in the channel, deepening the design, installing a concrete line into the ditch bottom and side slopes, and replacing residential fencing along both sides of the ditch. Estimated cost for this recommendation is $1.1 million.
  • Replace the draining collection system on Avenue D between the Magnolia Ditch and Morton Road by replacing 1,050 feet of existing pipe with a new concrete box, as well as inlet leads across Avenue D. Estimated cost for this recommendation is $1.07 million.
  • Add a new 42” storm sewer to relieve Pecan Lane, from the Hackberry Lane drainage runoff, by installing two inlets at the Hackberry cul-de-sac. The challenges for this process, the engineers said, are for the city to secure new drainage easements on existing lots and have a private pipeline company consent to allow the new draining pipe to be located within its existing 70-foot easement.
  • Replace an existing storm sewer on West Elm Circle with a new, 5×3 drainage box that would discharge water into Cane Island Creek. The challenge for this process, the engineers said, is to deal with existing driveways and landscaping to remove and replace pipe. They also recommended installing a flap gate at the box discharge into the creek. Estimated cost for this recommendation is $140,000.

The total estimated cost of these four recommendations, including contingency and engineering costs, is $3.3 million.

Engineers made a fifth recommendation to improve the roadside ditch and driveway covert for Pine Forest to current minimum design standards. However, they said they could not proceed on this recommendation until the first four recommendations are completed for establishing new depth and capacity.

Costello provided no cost estimate for this fifth recommendation.

Following the question-and-answer session, Brawner told the attendees that Katy was mentioned three times in a 301-page report, prepared by the state government, as it requests $61 billion in federal disaster recovery money. Areas directly affecting the city include:

  • Brookshire-Katy Drainage District: $72.8 million for construction of a detention lake upstream of Pitts Road to reduce the existing downstream flows during storms.
  • Harris County Flood Control District: $6 billion for the acquisition of land, easements, and rights-of-way for the Buffalo Bayou, Addicks, and Barker Reservoirs.
  • Cypress Creek Reservoir Project: $500 million for the completing designs to build out the Cypress Creek Reservoir to prevent future flooding.

In the meanwhile, Brawner said, the city isn’t going to wait around to work on what it can address within the city limits.

“I haven’t found any citizen that is opposed to this,” Brawner said in an interview Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything we can in the City of Katy to handle the water (that falls on the city).”

Tuesday’s meeting was styled as a “workshop,” in which the engineers made their presentation and then the floor was opened for questions from the public. It is expected to be the first of several.

Brawner said the next area under study is Riceland Village, directly east of Pine Forest on Morton Road. Brawner said engineering surveying crews are already in the area.

“I’m not sure when we’re going to get that needs assessment,” Brawner said, adding that the process for sharing findings and enabling public feedback will remain the same. He did not have a date for when that report would be ready.

“Once we get that report, we’ll have the same activity,” he said.

Brawner said he thought Tuesday’s workshop was a very good meeting.

“I thought everyone was able to ask a question and get it answered,” he said. “Today I just saw an e-mail that came through to the engineers answered almost immediately. It opens up a dialog between Costello and our citizens. From our side of it, administration, we’re going to get the funds to get it done. Citizens know what’s going to happen.”