Revised plan to destroy Buffalo Bayou announced: Public has till June 5th to comment

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.17.08 AM                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo by Jim Olive

Updated May 15, 2015.

Today, May 5, 2015, the US Army Corps of Engineers posted a new public notice announcing a revised permit application from the Harris County Flood Control District to destroy nearly 1.5 miles of one of the last natural stretches of Buffalo Bayou in Houston. The flood control project, called the Memorial Park Demonstration Project, is in a historic natural area with high cliffs and sandstone formations hundreds of thousands of years old.

Comments must be submitted by June 5, 2015.

The Flood Control District’s first application was announced in a public notice last April, and public comments were received through June 30. The comments were overwhelmingly negative. The revisions to the permit application are in response to those comments.

The Corps is now soliciting comments from the public, governmental agencies and officials, and other interested parties in advance of making a determination about the permit application.  The Corps requests that comments be limited to the clarifications and updates made by the Flood Control District to the Memorial Park Demonstration Project plans, monitoring plan and planting plan, as well as the District’s responses to comments received by the Corps and made by the Corps. The summary of updates and clarifications are contained in the following document under the “Response to Comments” tab on the Corps’ website:

http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Portals/26/docs/regulatory/PN%20May/Response.201201007Rev.pdf

You can read the revised plan here.

Houston and Harris County taxpayers are funding $4 million of this destructive “restoration” project, which would shorten, reroute, dredge, and channelize the bayou, eliminating a healthy riparian zone and rebuilding it using “natural, stable, channel design” methods prone to failure. The River Oaks Country Club, which owns the entire south bank of the “restoration” project, is paying $2 million. Riparian zones are crucial to the cleanliness of our waters, and are generally protected by policies and programs of our state and federal governments.

The north bank of the project is mostly Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary, with some private property in between.

All comments and requests for additional information should reference file number, SWG-2012-01007, and should be submitted by June 5 to:

Dwayne Johnson

Regulatory Branch, CESWG-RD-P

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

P.O. Box 1229

Galveston, Texas 77553-1229

409-766-6353 Phone

409-766-6301 Fax

swg_public_notice@usace.army.mil

And send a copy of your comments to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The TCEQ, which asked critical questions about the project in its comments to the Corps, must certify that the project complies with state water quality standards.

Lili Murphy
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Water Standards Team
401 Coordinator, MC-150P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087

lili.murphy@tceq.texas.gov and
401certs@tceq.texas.gov