Kingwood High School to transform into ‘inverse aquarium’ to prevent future flooding

Kingwood High School flood barriers
The initial design concepts for Kingwood High School's flood-mitigation project show protective flood barriers that would rise up to cover entrances and windows during heavy rainfall events but would otherwise be underground. (Rendering courtesy Humble ISD)

The initial design concepts for Kingwood High School's flood-mitigation project show protective flood barriers that would rise up to cover entrances and windows during heavy rainfall events but would otherwise be underground. (Rendering courtesy Humble ISD)

Image description
The initial design concepts for Kingwood High School's flood-mitigation project show protective flood barriers that would rise up to cover entrances and windows during heavy rainfall events but would otherwise be underground. (Rendering courtesy Humble ISD)
Humble ISD aims to protect Kingwood High School from future flood events with a flood mitigation project that will in theory turn the campus into an “inverted aquarium,” officials said. At the Nov. 12 school board meeting, architectural firm PBK Architects presented the initial design concept for the $30 million flood barrier project.

The campus, located off Kingwood Drive near West Lake Houston Parkway, received some water inside athletic areas of the campus during Tropical Depression Imelda on Sept. 19, officials said after the storm.

However, Kingwood High School received the most damage during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, as the campus took on more than 6 feet of water and had to close for roughly six months to undergo more than $74 million in repairs, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

HISD Chief Financial Officer Mike Seale said the district has been working with consultants, architects and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for roughly a year to figure out a flood-mitigation project for the campus.

“You can never say or assure that we’ll never have damage at Kingwood High School again, but it will dramatically ... reduce the likelihood that we will have a disastrous flood at Kingwood High School in the future,” he said.


The project, which could take 2 1/2 years to complete, would create protective flood barriers at Kingwood High School that would rise up to cover entrances and windows during heavy rainfall events but would otherwise be underground, PBK Senior Project Manager Jeff Chapman said.

The initial design concept is similar to flood-protection mechanisms at MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Center in downtown Houston, Chapman said. While the gates at other facilities require manual automation, Kingwood High School’s 8-foot flood gates would rise automatically in storm events, Chapman said.

He said the self-rising flood barrier would activate when floodwaters fill a chamber below the ground surface, raising the barrier in place. The project would also involve waterproofing the campus’s brick walls and adding back-flow preventers to keep sewer water from entering the school via plumbing.

However, Chapman said the project will not completely prevent water from entering the building in extreme storm events.

“I’m just telling you right now, there will be some water getting in; it will not be a perfect system,” he said. “But we’re talking about gallons of water, not hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.”

Trustee Lorie Twomey asked if the barriers could pose any potential threat to the surrounding community by diverting runoff. Chapman said because the project would be flush with the school's exterior walls, he does not believe that it will impact the surrounding area.

“If we were creating a giant wall all the way around the entire perimeter of the property, we would be drastically increasing the amount of water that was not able to come into the site by acres, whereas what we’re doing is by feet,” he said.

Chapman said they are still waiting on final approval from FEMA on the initial design concept before further engineering on the project can begin. The agency is set to pay 90% of the total construction cost of $30 million, and the district will pay the remaining 10%, which equates to about $2.8 to $3 million.

HISD will also be responsible to fully pay any needed changes to the interior of the school, because FEMA will not provide additional funds to change what the agency repaired after Harvey, Chapman said.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

Houston runoff election results Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston Runoff Election Results: Incumbent Mayor Turner secures decisive victory over Tony Buzbee

Houston Mayor Turner earns a sizaeble re-election lead against opponent Tony Buzbee in a runoff that mostly saw incumbents handily win new terms.

Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee
Houston vying to become host city for 2026 FIFA World Cup

Houston is among 17 U.S. cities in the race to host the World Cup and is competing against other major cities, such as New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, for the nod.

Lake Conroe residents wore "Stop the Drop" shirts at the Dec. 19 SJRA meeting. (Eva Vigh, Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Conroe residents demand end to lake lowering

Donning red T-shirts that read “Stop the Drop,” Lake Conroe residents gathered in full force at a Dec. 12 San Jacinto River Authority board meeting.

Quest Early College High School will move from within Humble High School to the nearby career and technical education center, or CATE Center, in August 2020. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Quest Early College High School students look forward to new, permanent space

Humble ISD is moving forward with its project to relocate Quest Early College High School from its current space within Humble High School to the district's career and technical education building.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addresses the Texas General Land Office at a Dec. 11 public hearing. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston area leaders call for more federal flood dollars at public meeting

Officials expressed concerns about proposed limitations for how federal funds will be allocated throughout the state.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District accepted the resignation of its board president Dec. 10. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District board president resigns; hydrologist contract terminated

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District meeting Dec. 10 brought two immediate changes.

Action Coach also offers free business workshops monthly. (Courtesy Action Coach Lake Houston)
Action Coach Lake Houston offers coaching to local businesses in the region

Action Coach also holds free business workshops monthly.

The Cove on Hamblen offers craft beer and wine to the Kingwood area. (Courtesy The Cove on Hamblen)
The Cove on Hamblen offers craft beer, wine to Kingwood area

The lounge offers 31 taps, various wines and growlers to go.

Dolce & Cannoli Pizzeria will open in late January in the Deerbrook Mall. (Courtesy Dolce & Cannoli Pizzeria)
Dolce & Cannoli Pizzeria to open second Houston-area eatery in Deerbrook Mall

This is the second location for the Houston-area eatery, as the first is in Memorial City Mall.

Eight roadways in the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood areas ranked in the top 1,000 of 1,800 roadways included in the Texas Transportation Institute's 2019 Most Congested Roadways in Texas report. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Northpark, Kingwood drives ranked among most congested roadways in Lake Houston area

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute's 2019 Most Congested Roadways in Texas report ranks more than 1,800 roadways across the state in terms of traffic delays, and money and gas wasted in traffic

Licensed registered nurses can earn the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree to be better prepared for leadership and management roles. (Courtesy Lone Star College)
Lone Star College approved to offer bachelor’s degree programs in 2020

Starting in fall 2020, Lone Star College will be one of the first community colleges in the state where students can work toward certain four-year degrees.

Back to top