Are Costly Flood Basins Proposed Where Natural Basins Already Exist on Buffalo Bayou?

Swales Holding Overflow May Be Natural Remnants of Bayou’s Original Meanders

Numerous Large Trees Cut Along Bayou Banks

June 19, 2018

Went for a stroll in the late morning heat a week ago Saturday along the south bank of Buffalo Bayou in Terry Hershey Park in west Houston. Started out on the pedestrian bridge at Eldridge Parkway and walked mostly but not always in the shade downstream. This is the area where the Harris County Flood Control District plans to remove trees and build the first of three linear detention basins at the edge of the stream to hold overflow from it.

The surprising find was that a significant amount of natural floodwater detention in the form of deep swales or depressions and levees already exists in this wooded area alongside the bayou.

These trees and bushes are growing in an apparently natural swale serving as detention on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou in Terry Hershey Park. Photo June 9, 2018

Disturbingly, we also found that numerous large trees, sycamores and oaks, on both sides of the bayou recently had been pointlessly cut down, likely by Flood Control employees or by contractors clearing woody debris from the channel. Flood Control pays maintenance contractors by the weight of the wood they collect. Trees on the banks are important for protecting against erosion and cooling the stream, as well as absorbing water, among other important functions.

Stumps of trees cut in Terry Hershey Park on the south bank Buffalo Bayou opposite Turkey Creek. Parked boat likely being used by maintenance workers for Harris County Flood Control. Photo June 9, 2018

The Natural Path of the Bayou

The swales and depressions, filled with trees and bushes, may correspond to the original path of the bayou, once a meandering wooded stream through this 6.2-mile long linear park. In the late 1940s, in conjunction with construction of the two federal dams, Addicks and Barker, immediately upstream, the US Army Corps of Engineers razed the forest and dug a straight, artificial channel for the bayou, a costly, environmentally-destructive practice long ago abandoned because it increases flooding, among other problems.

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One thought on “Are Costly Flood Basins Proposed Where Natural Basins Already Exist on Buffalo Bayou?”

  1. Steve Taggart says:

    Has not the city and Corp of engineers done enough damage to west Houston already? Quit building in the flood zones, destroying the prairies, the wetlands and most of south east Texas.

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