UPDATE: Harris County will relocate dirt from South Belt excavation


After reviewing its South Belt excavation project, the Harris County Flood Control District will remove all of the soil dumped onto a site in Friendswood in order to place it in a safer area, the district said Thursday.

“The Harris County Flood Control District contractor is going to remove the material that was placed on the current disposal site and transport it to another permitted disposal site outside the limits of the floodplain,” said Matt Zeve, P.E., director of operations at the Harris County Flood Control District. “A mistake was made and we are going to correct it.”

According to the district, the City of Friendswood allowed the project contractor to use the site as it was not considered to be in the floodplain, according to the city’s maps. However, the district’s maps show the opposite.

“However, because the Flood Control District believes its own, more restrictive floodplain maps reflect a more accurate floodplain boundary for Clear Creek, the Flood Control District has made the decision to remove the material to a more appropriate disposal site,” the district said in a written statement.

The project, which is creating a new stormwater retention basin to reduce the potential for flooding in the Clear Creek and Mud Gully/Beamer Ditch watersheds, had been suspended Tuesday in response to residents’ concerns about the movement of dirt onto a section of land in Friendswood. The district had inspectors at the site, located at 2811 Dixie Farm Road near Blackhawk Road, to check for compliance with the Stormwater Pollution Prevention plan, which is intended to prevent sediment from washing into storm sewers or bayous during construction.

On social media, residents expressed concern that the soil was being removed from the old Southbend subdivision area, which has a history of contamination from the Brio superfund site, but the district said that tests have shown it is safe.

“Soil from the stormwater detention basin site has been tested for contamination on multiple occasions, including before the Flood Control District acquired the property for stormwater detention, and has been found to be safe,” the district said. “This excavated material is not from the Brio superfund site.”

The district’s statement Thursday reiterated that the decision to move the material is based on the potential flood risk and is not an environmental quality issue.

The work will resume once the contractor can obtain approval for another disposal site and can get crews to the Dixie Farm Road location, the district said.

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  1. The disturbing of any soil in the Brio site or the surrounding area, which was also used for dumping and spraying and piping of waste toxins (and I saw it with my own two eyes), is unwise. The area needs to be simply left alone or further remediated. The so-called testing that is done on these sites (as was done back when Brio was being brought to the public eye) may well show that the soil passes EPS standards. The issue though was that the standards never included the kinds of heavy metals and waste products that were so very deadly in the Brio property itself and the surrounding fields and ditches. It is tempting land for development or for infrastructure projects, but the residents remember, its deadly land.

  2. New housing developments have have completely surrounded the Brio Site right up to the borders. These people that are buying the houses are gambling with their health starting at around $300k -400k. I seriously doubt the new house owners really understand what they are living by. I’ve considered printing off Brio information flyers and putting them on these new development housing.

  3. If the area is truly safe would the people who approved this project be willing to move their families into homes build using this removed soil as a foundation for their new homes? or move into that new built up area right next to Brio? I bet not.

  4. Isn’t anyone sounding the alarm on this? The backyards of these homes go right up to the Brio fences?!
    I can understand to a point young couples wanting a new home-not around in the 80’s when attention was drawn to the disaster but government agencies should be looking at this-YES?! I wonder who is being paid off to turn a blind eye on this?

Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.
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