Houston Matters

Is Dredging the San Jacinto River Enough to Protect Kingwood?

The buildup of sediment in the river led to much of Kingwood’s flooding during Harvey. Work recently began to dredge a two-mile stretch — but should more be done?

San Jacinto River Sandbar
A large sandbar near Kingwood’s River Grove Park blocks the view of the San Jacinto River.

River Grove Park in Kingwood overlooks the west fork of the San Jacinto River. But you can’t entirely see the river — even when you’re standing at the water’s edge.

That’s because there’s a large sandbar sitting between the park’s boat ramp and the rest of the river. The sandbar is large enough that someone has set up a net so people can play sand volleyball on it (but you might need a boat to get out there though).

River Grove Park from the Air
An aerial view of a sandbar near Kingwood’s River Grove Park on the west fork of the San Jacinto River.

The sandbar wasn’t always there, but it is, however, a sign of a larger problem that came into play during Harvey — sediment buildup along the river that prevented proper drainage for many homes in the area and, perhaps most notably, Kingwood High School, which was damaged heavily.

Kingwood High School
Kingwood High School suffered massive damage from flooding following Harvey.

But work began recently to at least return things to where they were before Harvey – mainly dredging about two miles of the river. It’s the first major Houston-area flood control project to directly result from the storm.

But is that enough? Should more routine maintenance dredging be done to prevent sediment buildup even further?

To learn more about where all this sediment came from and how it could be addressed, Michael Hagerty visited the site and then spoke with William Dupre, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston.

William Dupre, University of Houston
William Dupre, University of Houston professor emeritus.

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