According to the Wharton County Commissioners Court, there are 10 areas that have been identified as having “drainage issues” across Precinct 1.

This list was provided by the court during a regular Monday, Aug. 12 meeting.

It was in response to numerous concerns from citizens who voiced strong opinions on matters that affected them following a major rain event on June 5 that resulted in widespread flooding.

Some constituents of Precinct 1 Commissioner Richard Zahn said they were flooded this time around, but spared during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Many didn’t understand why. Many others had opinions about where and how the floodwaters flowed, or lack thereof.

Elected officials and engineers have said there is very little that can be done when 15-17 inches of rain falls in certain areas for several hours as compared to Harvey when it rained off and on for consecutive days.

The following are areas Commissioners Court discussed:

1. PECAN VALLEY/HORIZON TURF FARM CANAL / LEVEE (includes FM 1299, CR 132, Nelson Rd)

2. BEAR BOTTOM – (90’ long x 36” drop pipe into Colorado River)

3. FREEDOM ROAD – BAUGHMAN SLOUGH

4. SH 60 – (includes CR 134 / Nichols Rd)

5. LANE CITY – (get drainage to Wells Water Hole)

6. MAGNET

7. CR 111 at COTTON DALE RD

8. CR 127 / SUGAR MILL RD

9. CR 132

10. PYSEN ADDITION (Boling).

The Commissioners Court described what they are doing as their “specific plan of action.”

In this issue, the Journal-Spectator will share information that was provided by Judge Phillip Spenrath regarding Pecan Valley. In the coming issues, the others will be published.

1. PECAN VALLEY / TURF FARM CANAL / LEVEE – FM 1299, CR 132, NELSON

A. Clean out trees from top end and sides of ditch (pipe). Wharton County said all debris has been removed from within and on top of pipe. Water now freely flows unobstructed to the river. (Picnic tables and other things previously were obstructing the flow).

Wharton County said it would replace this drop pipe as soon as possible. Spenrath spoke with Wharton County Engineer Eric Scheibe, who is based in Austin. Scheibe provided a recommendation by end of the week (July 19).

B. Commissioner Richard Zahn to mow bottom side of ditch (mowing complete.)

C. Zahn to contact absentee land owners to get permission. Wharton County said five separate land owners contacted and permission granted.

D. Zahn and Ryan Siemper looked at FM 1299. Judge called Paul Reitz with the Texas Department of Transportation and they will complete shooting survey slope by week’s end. Wharton County said TXDot has shot the slopes. Judge called Paul Reitz and Siemper to get results. TXDOT will clear ditch in two to three weeks.

E. Scheibe is reviewing this entire situation to determine impact of levee/canal and possible private land owner solutions. Wharton County said Scheibe has concurred that private canal/levee is causing major drainage issues. County cannot go onto private land to do work. Land owners may choose to bring Civil Action.

F. Scheibe will determine if Wharton County needs to widen its existing county drainage ditches running alongside levee on FM 1299. Wharton County said Spenrath spoke with Scheibe, who is conducting engineering work to determine if widening and deepening county ditches will generate needed relief. 

G. County officials may need to visit with Turf Farm after Scheibe’s report to share their findings. 

(Sept. 6) Scheibe determined the berm generates one to five feet increase in flooding on the high side. Further stated this area will always flood. There is no way to eliminate the flood problem, but can eliminate the field side of berm appearing to be drained while the opposite side (homes) has a wall of water.

You will never be able to stop flooding for 100-year event like the recent 14 plus inches of rainfall on June 5.

Recommended Plan: Dig out county’s existing roadside drainage ditches, including obtaining easement from Turf Farm to create a new ditch behind existing home on east side. 

Reduced impact/benefit: The implementation of this plan should remove six to eight inches of water during a 100-year event (14-foot rainfall). The plan would also call for the installation of three new two-foot culverts on the side.

Cost: Total project approximately $500,000. Phase 1 approximately $100,000 (dirt work done in-house). Replace existing drop pipe w/riser with three new 48-inch outfall pipes. Add three (3) two-foot diameter culvert pipes along CR 167.

Phase 1: 

Begin obtaining needed easements as soon as possible.

Get the area surveyed (six weeks).

Scheibe to complete construction documents on entire project (eight weeks).

Begin actual construction in January 2020 (Try to do most work in house).

There will be issues with dirt removal.

Wharton County said (former WC Drainage Director/now Precinct 2 Commissioner) Rusty Graves suggest 20- to 25-foot wide ditches with three to one slope from PT 15 (natural drainage) toward the Colorado River (whatever the easement will allow) and install new culverts where possible. The current ditches are three feet deep with three to one slopes.

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