Your Wharton County elected officials, precinct workers, and drainage department recently completed $2.1 million in countywide drainage maintenance and improvements. 

Today’s column reviews our past six months of drainage activities specifically related to the June 5th extreme rain event when much of our county received 10-17 inches of rainfall in one day.  

 PECAN VALLEY / TURF FARM LEVEEE - FM 1299, CR 132, NELSON Rd:  landowners have been extremely helpful in getting this $500,000 project underway.  Drainage crews cleared trees from the top end and sides of ditch; removed a picnic table and debris from on top the drainage pipe to where water flows unobstructed to the river.  Engineering designs are nearing completion as workers prepare to widen existing county ditches running alongside the levee on FM 1299.  With landowner assistance, a new ditch will be dug along the east side of the turf farm and three new 60-inch culverts installed on the north side.

Key: While engineers report there is no mechanism for completely eliminating all flood concerns in this naturally low lying area, we do hope to remove 6-8” of water during the next 100-yr rainfall event.

BEAR BOTTOM: elected officials worked with LCRA to develop a $300,000 solution to replace an antiquated 90 ft long drainage pipe with three 60” diameter pipes that include a riser at the Colorado River.  This engineered design should prevent runoff waters from backing up into the Bear Bottom Subdivision. While pipes have been ordered, we still need landowner easements to excavate needed fill dirt.

FREEDOM ROAD and BAUGHMAN SLOUGH:  Our drainage team completed spraying from US 59…past the Junior College…down to CR 129 (Montgomery Road.)  Excavators pulled trees from Baughman Slough and cleaned the tributary between CR 150 and Peach Creek.  Brush was cleared from the smaller ditch running through the subdivision near Freedom Road.

SH 60 (includes CR 134/ NICHOLS Rd): TxDOT inspected their culverts and reported they are properly installed.  The County widened the ditch along the old railroad easement.  All remaining drainage issues involve TxDOT controlled drainage systems.

LANE CITY:  county workers used dozers, excavators, a track hoe, and a slope mower to clear the way from Lane City to Wells Water Hole.  Continuing on, county workers pulled trees and sprayed weeds from Wells Water Hole to FM 442 (across from the grass farm.)  

MAGNET:  drainage crews removed a washed-out bridge that was hindering water flow.  Spray trucks worked from SH  60 to the county line (Runnels Ranch.)

CR 111 / COTTONDALE Rd:  our engineering consultant met with local landowners to assess possible solutions.  County crews plan to widen a large ditch running parallel to Cottondale Road.  

CR 127/ SUGAR MILL Rd:  Landowners and county officials continue working together to determine if re-cutting the existing natural drainage channel will reduce runoff concerns.  The initially proposed installation of a larger drain pipe will not alleviate existing issues as upstream runoff is hindered by smaller culverts installed in adjacent residential driveways.

PYSSEN ADDITION (Boling) and CR 442:  Excavators will soon move into Gardner Slough thereby providing some relief to this neighborhood.        

LAKE NET:  A difficult situation where large volumes of city runoff waters naturally drain into this low spot.   Local residents continue working with city and school officials to find plausible solutions.  One suggestion was to ensure lake levels remain below 50% capacity.  Another alternative might be digging a release ditch from Lake Net down to CR 129 (Montgomery Rd.)  At this time, required landowner participation has not been granted.    

CULVERT PIPES on CR 219:   After the big June rainfall, precinct workers installed dual culverts under the County Road 219 crossing immediately south of County Road 207.  Residents east of the crossing are now concerned the new culverts will channel additional water onto their property.  Our engineering consultant has studied this situation and believes the best solution for everyone is to clear an existing east side drainage channel to allow excess runoff to flow freely toward the river.  At this time, needed landowner participation has not been granted.    

My fellow citizens, there is no clear cut solution to prevent flooding after a 17 inch rainfall.  We live in a region where the land is basically flat, and once the ground gets saturated, there is limited places the water can flow.  Regardless, we must continue doing all we can to preserve public safety and diminish property damage.

As your county judge, my primary objective continues to be preparing Wharton County for the future while always maintaining our unique small-town way of life. 

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