During the meeting, Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin, who also serves as the council member for District E in Kingwood, updated attendees about various flood mitigation projects in the Kingwood area, including the Lake Houston dam gate project and dredging in Lake Houston and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.
Last August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the city of Houston’s project to build $47.1 million gates on the Lake Houston dam. Most recently, the Coastal Water Authority hired Black & Veatch as the design contractor for the project in April, Martin said. He said construction will most likely be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.
"What we don't want to do is we don't want to hurt all the people who live ... downstream from us," he said. "I never want to be accused of hurting the folks downstream, so we're doing a lot of assessments."
Additionally, dredging is pushing forward on the mouth bar, which is located at the confluence of Lake Houston and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River. Contractors began work in January to remove about 400,000 cubic yards of debris from the mouth bar—a $40 million project that is expected to take about 12 months.
Roughly 240,000 cubic yards have been removed from the mouth bar so far, Martin said. After the project at the mouth bar is complete, the city of Houston will move the dredging efforts to other areas in need of debris removal in the Lake Houston area.
"Next we're going to move over to the East Fork [of the San Jacinto River], where we're seeing an accumulation of a lot of debris in that area," he said.
Meanwhile, HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood officials also spoke at the Kingwood BizCom about how COVID-19 has affected the Lake Houston area. John Corbeil, the CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood, said the HCA Houston Healthcare system has seen a slight decrease in hospitalizations across the Houston region.
The 14 Houston-area HCA hospitals saw a peak of 700 patients, but it is now down to about 300, Corbeil said.
“At Kingwood, we saw a high of around 80 patients with COVID-19 at our facility, and today we’re around 40,” he said.
COVID-19 hospitalizations at the Kingwood hospital mirror hospital trends in the Greater Houston area. The Texas Medical Center reported a 17% drop in COVID-19 patients in intensive care units between July 27 and Aug. 2 and fewer new daily hospitalizations, Community Impact Newspaper reported. However, the TMC also also saw 260 more COVID-19 patients die week over week.