DICKINSON

It took only about 90 seconds for long-running drainage and flooding problems to come up during a city council meeting Tuesday.

The drainage talk, delivered to a packed house of flood-weary residents by an engineering firm that has been hired to fix Dickinson’s clogged-up bayous, overgrown ditches and inadequate culverts, dug deep into the weeds of the city’s drainage issues for one reason — to assure impatient residents, some of whom have spent the past couple of weeks filling potholes and cleaning out ditches without the city’s help, that officials had heard their concerns and were working on a solution.

“My purpose for this is to give some insight into what we’re doing,” City Manager Chris Heard said.

The city, where hundreds of houses and businesses were badly flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August last year, was still in the planning stages of solving its drainage problems as it waited to apply for federal money that could help, he said.

“They’re not definitive solutions, but there’s a lot of planning going on, and it’s an opportunity to see what’s been going on.”

Then Michael Tehrani, a vice president and hydrologist for Huitt-Zollars, which the city hired in August on a one-year, not-to-exceed $370,000 contract to help it deal with the drainage issues, used a city map to explain street-by-street what had been done so far.

Basically, the city was still in the surveying phase, he explained.

Contractors with Huitt-Zollars, along with city staff, had been busy walking flood-prone roads on recent rainy days to talk with residents about the problem, as well as using mapping technology to determine where the flooding was worse and what the priority should be for fixing it, he said.

The conclusion was culverts should be replaced, ditches should be cleaned out and dug deeper and some kind of regional plan needs to be hammered out between Dickinson officials and the governments of nearby cities, Tehrani said.

“This is the first step,” Tehrani said. “Just looking and talking to people so we can see how much we’ve learned. There’s a process the city needs to go through.”

Heard jumped in to add that the city is meeting with the company every two weeks to identify problem areas and sort them into what he called “situations” — small drainage and flood issues that could be grouped together into “projects” that eventually will be paired with a funding source.

“We’re up to a little more than 100 situations,” Heard said, pointing to the areas around Hughes Road and Baker Drive as priorities. “Once we identify and scope out a project that looks viable, we’ll lay out probable costs and also lay out alternatives.”

It was similar to the explanation he gave earlier this month after some residents called for the city to ask Texas City and League City to stop signing off on new housing developments that use Dickinson Bayou as a drainage receptacle. A request for a building moratorium in other cities would not only be unsuccessful, it also wouldn’t address the entire problem, he said.

“We need a holistic solution,” he told The Daily News, adding that thorough planning is necessary if the city wants to be eligible for federal project dollars. “People are blaming new developments in other cities, but that’s only a part of what’s going on.”

Still, Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters has scheduled a meeting of local government and drainage district representatives to talk about these issues —new developments in other cities, mostly — that Dickinson can’t address on its own and doesn’t want to spend too much money on, Masters said.

“How much of the taxpayer’s money do we want to spend on improving a drainage area that’s not even in the city?” Tehrani asked council members, before being asked himself if he had billed Dickinson for even mapping out drainage issues in a nearby Texas City development.

“It only took the computer a few seconds,” he assured council members.

Masters said the meeting is tentatively set for later this month, which might not be fast enough for some elected officials and city residents, who vented about drainage woes during the meeting’s public comment session.

“I know a lot of people who aren’t happy,” Councilman Charles Suderman said.

“They’re already preparing for homes to go up on the west side of I-45,” Councilman William King said, referring to a new development in Texas City. “It’s coming and we don’t have much time.”

Aaron West: 409-683-5246; aaron.west@galvnews.com

Reporter

(3) comments

Michelle Aycoth

Dickinson, quit blaming everybody else for your drainage problems.
Focus on what you can control and quit making excuses.
Andrew Aycoth

George Croix

"The conclusion was culverts should be replaced, ditches should be cleaned out and dug deeper and some kind of regional plan needs to be hammered out between Dickinson officials and the governments of nearby cities, Tehrani said."

They could have gotten THAT brilliant conclusion for FREE right here in these forums over the last several months, multiple times, and used the 370,000 bucks to buy another Gradal and start cleaning ditches..........

TC isn't much better about maintaining drainage - the ditches on this road, according to the last of the old timers still here, were last cleaned about when I was in high school.....except for mine, which was cleaned when we built the house - in 1991...........

Chris Tucker

Okay let me see if I have this correct. Dickinson's elected officials stated they did not have the money to clean and maintain the approx. 100 miles of ditches but somehow they were able to justify spending (up to) $370,000 dollars for a drainage study when a through and comprehensive drainage study for Dickinson was conducted about 7 or 8 years ago but never acted upon? Simple math says the costs for the current drainage study will cost approx. $3,700 for each mile of drainage ditches and after the study is completed none of the ditches will have been touched!!! WHAT THE HECK????? It would seem to me the City could have spent the $370,000 mowing and cleaning at least SOME of the ditches? Why does it seem there is always money for consultants and studies but rarely is there money to act upon the issues? It has been reported the City has or is going to waive the current Drainage Tax assessment due to a low participation rate (53%?) of the property owners. Is the City going to reimburse the property owners who paid the current Drainage Tax assessment? If so then when? If not then why not? What has been the collection rate for the Drainage Tax assessment for the previous years and what has the City done to collect any unpaid monies? Additionally the City needs to provide a comprehensive and complete accounting of how and where the Drainage Tax monies have been spent this year and the previous years. $370,000 for a drainage study in a city of approximately 20,000 people with a land mass of 19 square miles......really? SMH!

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