Many of you driving on the Grand Parkway have already seen the Fort Bend County Drainage District at work, desilting the bayou from the deposits and islands that have formed after repeated heavy rain events. This is an additional desilting project happening concurrently with the project inside the Barker Reservoir on the same waterway.
Restoring channel capacity and original design is a key focus of the FBC Drainage District, and this work will be ongoing this summer to move this silt back into upstream locations where it has eroded from repeated high water events. As silt is removed and it is dried, the material will be removed by trucks and those trucks will stay within the bayou on its banks to use the material to restore original channel design.
A bit of a history lesson - Commissioner Meyers gets a lot of questions about the hydrology of this work, and why it's needed. As many of the original Katy area residents remember, the Willow Fork of Buffalo Bayou used to be a winding waterway in its natural state.
The decision that was made almost 40 years ago was to alter the bayou into a man-made route, but it came with a tradeoff of sorts.
When the Willow Fork Drainage District was created, the engineers and developers came up with the design that changed the natural path of the bayou into more of a straight line for the water. The purpose of this design was to dramatically increase the speed and flow of water draining through the Cinco Ranch and Grand Lakes area.
By speeding up the flow of the water through the bayou, the erosive nature of those waters cuts away the banks of the bayou much faster than it did a generation ago when the bayou was in its natural state. Further exacerbating the erosion and siltation, the Willow Fork Drainage District also created a diversion channel for the water that is designed to help with high water events. This diversion channel starts just east of the Peek Road bridge, and much like the Willow Fork itself - it also needs desilting work downstream as it moves towards and into the Barker Reservoir.
Katy's original residents never had to deal with these types of erosion and siltation problems, but it is unlikely that the flat ranch land and rice fields could ever have been developed from a rural agricultural area to the large suburban area of today, if these improvements had not been made.