Dredging of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River in Texas began on September 21 after several delays. The $69.8 million project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the work is needed to move more than 2.5 miles of debris that accumulated after Hurricane Harvey and has impeded water flow posing flooding hazards. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District is overseeing the project and awarded the contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock on July 6.
Staging of the area began in July with pipelines assembled and installed in August and September. Work was to have started September 1, but a delay in dredge assembly and strong storms pushed the start of the project back.
Two dredges are working along a 2-mile stretch of the West Fork to remove nearly 2 million cubic yards of sediment and debris. The dredges are working from opposite ends of the West Fork project area. The dredged material will be placed on two sites in the Lake Houston area. More than 4.5 miles of 24-inch high density polyethylene pipeline will move the material. Booster pumps have been staged on the placement sites to pull material from the dredges through the pipelines. Work is scheduled to be completed in April 2019.
FEMA funding came at the request of the State of Texas under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act. FEMA guidelines limit the dredging to restore the area to pre-Harvey conditions. In April 2018, the Corps began surveying sediment levels in the West Fork and collected bids until mid-June. Questions arose from the bidders on the water surface elevations plans causing the Corps to recalculate the volume of anticipated dredged material. The forecasted dredged material increased from 748,000 cubic yards to 1.8 million.