855-H2o-SAVE (855-426-7283)

 WJPA and MUD 2016 Storm Response and Flood Control Efforts

 As you know, residents of The Woodlands and surrounding areas have endured intense rainstorms throughout the spring of 2016. Three of the storms – on April 18, May 26 and May 27 – severely impacted our area and were classified as 50- to 100-plus-year events. Weather data shows the flooding of the Spring Creek area adjacent to The Woodlands was perhaps the second-worst in 140 years, surpassed only by flooding in 1994. This year, many homes in The Woodlands that flooded in 2001 during Tropical Storm Allison did so again, and an estimated 20 families faced first-time flooding in their homes.

This letter is intended to summarize the historical and ongoing flood control efforts of The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA) and the 10 municipal utility districts (MUDs) it serves and our response to the 2016 storms. A new community task force has been proposed to review flood control options and make recommendations as soon as possible, but we believe it is important to inform you of WJPA efforts already underway.

Flood Control Cooperation

 The WJPA (on behalf of the MUDs we serve), Montgomery County and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) jointly manage local flood control in The Woodlands. We also rely on the cooperation of homeowners, builders, developers and commercial property owners, among others.

The mission of the WJPA is to provide water distribution, wastewater collection, storm water drainage and tax collection services for the MUDs. With flood control, we are responsible for drainage of areas inside and outside of local flood plains, including residential areas and streets. The MUDs are responsible for most public underground storm water pipes and drainage. County precincts are generally responsible for roadside drainage that use open ditches. The SJRA provides maintenance services for the two main drainage systems of The Woodlands, Panther Branch and Bear Branch, pursuant to contracts with the MUDs. Together, we all work to minimize flood risk in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.

Immediate WJPA Response

 The MUD boards and WJPA staff recognize the importance of resident concerns and questions prompted by the recent flooding. We strive to ensure that the master drainage system for The Woodlands – which was designed to meet or exceed national engineering standards – continues to function as planned. We also are researching potential problem areas reported by residents. As it has through other major storm events, the WJPA is prepared to recommend adjustments, as needed, to the master drainage system plan for The Woodlands.

Our current flood-control priorities include:

Proactive review and documentation of about 100 reported community concerns ranging from first-time or extreme flooding of homes and garages, to extraordinary street ponding to some cases of individual lot-to-lot drainage problems;

  • Adding engineering and construction resources for WJPA-recommended improvements, such as regrading and other improvements to MUD-managed drainage areas or easements;
  • Helping ensure that homeowners, builders and developers are meeting drainage requirements, and making recommendations, as appropriate, to improve drainage;
  • Supporting a Spring Creek channel early warning system for rising water in The Woodlands neighborhoods adjacent to Spring Creek that are prone to flooding;
  • Further strengthening our cooperation with local, state and federal authorities regarding long-term flood control solutions; and
  • Raising awareness of federal flood insurance protection for local homeowners.

 Master Drainage Plan of The Woodlands

From its inception, The Woodlands was designed and engineered with storm water management as a priority. The master drainage plan included detailed hydrologic and hydraulic models. These models were based on a complete buildout of The Woodlands – in other words, accounting for all present-day development levels. Throughout the history of our community, the master drainage plan has been revised and approved by various regulatory agencies, including Montgomery County and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

Here’s how the local drainage system works: the storm sewer system is designed and installed according to specific public works engineering criteria. As rain falls within The Woodlands, water is collected and sent into an underground storm sewer system through curb and area inlets and into roadside drainage ditches. Our streets are designed to drain storm runoff of about one inch per hour with (limited or no ponding) into two types of internal drainage systems: underground storm sewers and roadside ditches. As rain intensifies and the piped storm sewer system reaches design capacity, water begins to pond in streets and becomes “surface flow.” For more intense storm events that exceed one inch per hour, the streets are designed to serve as temporary drainage conveyance systems and direct water to extreme storm event surface drainage easements, larger underground pipes, channels and man-made and natural drainage ditches. In these intense storms, water can rise up to two feet in paved streets, which can also result in water ponding and encroaching into neighboring yards. As rainfall intensity lessens, street ponding subsides and typically drains in less than one to two hours.

These channels and drainage easements then carry water to Bear Branch, Panther Branch or other large manmade drainage ditches, all of which ultimately discharge the storm water into Spring Creek for areas west of I-45 and the San Jacinto River for areas east of I-45. To mitigate the additional runoff created by homes and commercial development in The Woodlands, several detention reservoirs have also been constructed to further strengthen the drainage system, the largest being the Bear Branch Reservoir, a detention pond upstream of Kuykendahl Road.

Detention is also required by local governments for development occurring outside The Woodlands. The MUDs actively monitor stream flow into The Woodlands from these areas to guard against adverse impacts to our drainage system.

Looking Forward

Compared to other communities in southeast Texas, The Woodlands has endured extreme rain events and floods through the years relatively well – with limited property damage and few injuries. Of course, this is no consolation to local families who faced hardships because of flooding. For them and all residents of The Woodlands, the WJPA is committed to further strengthening the performance of our drainage systems. We welcome your input and remain available to address your concerns.

If you have a drainage concern that has not been reported, please call 855-H20-SAVE, extension 4.

Thank you for your time and interest in this important issue.

James M. Stinson, P.E., General Manager, WJPA

 


The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency
2455 Lake Robbins Dr
The Woodlands TX 77380

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855-H2o-SAVE (855-426-7283)

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