Crews on Tuesday began work on what officials with the Harris County Flood Control District are calling a major $200,000 project along the north banks of Clear Creek, but some Galveston County residents have criticized it as not enough.
“They’re touting this like it’s some major project,” said Philip Ratisseau, a Friendswood resident who attended the district’s Monday public meeting about bond projects. “But it’s just maintenance.”
The flood control district, as part of a $2.5 billion bond voters approved in August 2018, has set aside about $200,000 for clearing, or desnagging, fallen and downed trees and those in imminent risk of falling along the north side of Clear Creek between Dixie Farm Road and FM 528, officials have said.
But, depending on how crews fare, the work could continue all the way along the creek to Interstate 45, said Shane Hrobar, a vegetation management coordinator with the flood control district.
“The purpose of this project is to make sure the channel has peak conveyance,” Hrobar said.
The project is meant to be the first in more regular maintenance of the Harris County side of the creek, said John Watson, a facilities maintenance manager at the flood control district.
“We’ve been doing work on Clear Creek off and on for the last five or 10 years,” Watson said. “But it hasn’t been on a regularly scheduled routine. Once this clearing the creek project is done, it will be on a schedule.”
While the flood control district’s project focuses on the Harris County side of the creek, several Galveston County officials in recent months have recommended spending money to undertake a similar project using barges equipped with grappling arms and lawn mowers.
County leaders in November declined to move forward with the plan, however, until they had a clearer explanation about its costs, which one commissioner estimated would be about $600,000.
The most effective way for local leaders to reduce flooding is by improving flow along Clear Creek, according to the recent findings of the Friendswood Drainage Subcommittee.
Harris County officials added the possibility of extending their project to Interstate 45 after outcry from residents living farther down the creek, Hrobar said.
The clearing project should take about five or six weeks to complete, Hrobar said.
Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of Galveston County and badly flooded many houses and businesses in August 2017.