The last of the replacement pumps at the FCLID#2 pump station have been put into operation. We now have a total of three new pumps, each capable of pumping up to 45,000 gallons of water per minute (GPM). The first one was installed well over a year ago along with other improvements such as increasing the size of the bypass pipe under Avondale Street from 18” to 48” and lowering that pipe at the same time. That new pump was also lowered so that in combination with the new bypass pipe, rainwater could be pumped out sooner and faster. The old set-up required the lakes to be nearly full before enough water could reach the pumps. The 35-year-old pumps that we used during Hurricane Harvey, could each only pump 11,000 GPM and instead of running just one at a time and resting one, we were forced to operate both at the same time to keep up with the rainfall rate. We can now run one or two pumps as needed and rest the third one and then rotate through them so they each get a break.
New requirements from the city and the county require all new subdivisions to meet a higher level of rainfall, which is based on the average rainfall rates that have been steadily going up in the Southeast Texas area. The new rainfall rates were published by NOAA in a report called Atlas 14. As a built-out and existing subdivision, we are grandfathered in and don’t have to meet those requirements, but we felt it was in the best interest of the Commonwealth Community to try and meet them. These new pumps go a long way towards helping us meet the new Atlas 14 requirements. A significant amount of study and research went into determining the sizes of the pumps and drainpipes needed.
Our neighbors in FBCLID#2 are also installing new pumps on a massive scale. The flooding that occurred during Harvey in their portion of First Colony would not have occurred if their new pumps had been installed back then. The two side-by-side Districts, ours, and FBCLID#2, are immensely better prepared for any future rain event, like Hurricane Harvey.
We are blessed to have a large quantity of temporary storage for rainfall and that helped save us during Harvey. FBCLID#2 is trying to increase their storage capacity like ours. They are using the fill from deepening and widening their ponds and ditches to raise the levees under their control. They are about to start phase two on their southern ditches but have run out of levee to raise, so FCLID#2 has agreed to contract with them to use some of their fill dirt to raise our levee to the 500-year flood event height. We have surveyed the elevation of our levee with GPS and will be starting soon to scrape the sod off and then raising the levee around The Commonwealth. FBCLID#2 will provide the fill that they would have otherwise had to pay to haul off long distances and FCLID#2 will pay for the tractors and manpower to install it. This will result in a tremendous savings to The Commonwealth over having to purchase fill dirt. Additionally, while we currently meet the minimum requirements to be a 100-year flood certified levee system, protection from the 500-year flood will allow all of us in The Commonwealth to rest easier at night. The height increase will vary from 0” to around 18”. Much of the levee in The Commonwealth only needs about 6” to 12” of fill to meet the 500-year flood level. That extra level protection would have meant a lot, if we had reached the flood stage originally predicted early in the Hurricane Harvey rainfall event.
The FCLID#2 Board is keeping up with the needs of our residents and the changing codes and requirements. Weather changes and better recording of those changes cause us to make needed changes to our infrastructure. New buildout along the Brazos River Drainage system also causes us to be fluid in our analysis of our flood protection system. The river is not static, so we will always need to be watching out to stay on top of needed changes and upgrades.