An additional $29 million in state grant funds will be going toward ongoing dredging efforts in Lake Houston and its surrounding canals and channels, following unanimous approval by the Houston City Council on May 10.

Term to know: Dredging is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors and other bodies of water. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dredging is a routine necessity in waterways worldwide because sedimentation—the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream—gradually fills channels and harbors.

The background: Following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, flood mitigation efforts ramped up in the Greater Houston area and particularly in the Lake Houston area. According to a May 10 newsletter from Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin—who represents Houston City Council District E, which includes Kingwood—more than 4 million cubic yards of silt and sediment has been dredged from Lake Houston and its tributaries since 2018 at a total cost of $222 million. These efforts were paid for through federal, state and local funding sources and were a combination of:What's next: According to Martin's newsletter, the additional funding will allow dredging activities to start on the east side of Lake Houston and its various canals and channels. The funds will also go toward the implementation of a pilot program testing the efficacy of sand traps upstream of Lake Houston. Per the newsletter, building sand traps is a proactive approach to capturing much of the silt and sediment coming down the various tributaries feeding into Lake Houston well before it ever reaches.

The details: According to a May 10 news release from state Rep. Charles Cunningham, R-Humble, the grant will provide for the mechanical and/or hydraulic dredging of sand and sediment from public property, as well as the proper disposal of the debris. The work will consist of:
  • Loading and hauling from public waterways to disposal sites;
  • The removal of tree stumps;
  • Cutting and removing partially uprooted or split trees; and
  • The collection of debris laden sand.
Quote of note: "Consecutive disasters have negatively impacted our Lake Houston communities, particularly in the last two decades," Cunningham said in a statement. "I am pleased that this grant will finally be utilized to assist in the prevention of future flooding This project will help divert flood water away from homes and strengthen the ability of residents to respond to future disasters. In addition, I am hopeful the 88th Legislature will allocate funding for the Lake Houston Dam Improvement Project, a project that seeks to extend the life of the dam and will enable the rapid lowering of lake levels in advance of future floods."