Frequently Asked Questions: Maintenance & Service Requests
I received a mail announcement from the District about upcoming routine maintenance activities in my area. Does this mailer mean that the District is going to fix the sinkhole or erosion behind my house?
No, this mailer is not a notice that the District will be repairing damage to a channel behind your house. It is intended to notify citizens about routine maintenance operations only, such as mowing and other vegetation control.
Please help to ensure that the District knows about damage to any particular channel. The District would appreciate it if you would let us know about the problem, so appropriate action can be taken to repair it. Please contact the Citizen Service Center.
My home has flooded repeatedly. Will this maintenance help reduce flooding?
Routine maintenance generally has little noticeable effect on flooding. However, if these maintenance activities are left undone, then it is possible that damage to the drainage infrastructure might occur and the chances of your home flooding could increase.
If the maintenance will not address the flooding in my neighborhood, are there any projects scheduled in my area?
At any given time, the District is planning and constructing dozens of flood damage reduction projects. For more information about projects in your area, please contact the Citizen Service Center.
The District does not maintain the channel behind my house. Why did I receive a Notice of Routine Maintenance card?
Usually, there is another channel or another section of a channel nearby that the District IS maintaining routinely. Because of limitations in the technology used to generate the mailing list, your address may have been included in the mailing list, even though you are just nearby. Please let the Citizen Service Center know about any mistakes, so that we may correct the problem in the future.
The District mows too much/not enough. Please mow less/more frequently.
For more information about how and why the District mows, please refer to the Vegetation Management Manual.
How often does the District mow?
Vegetation cutting, a combination of mowing and other cutting procedures, promotes desirable vegetation by reducing or eliminating undesirable plant species that adversely affect conveyance of channels, hide potentially dangerous slope failures or other areas that need repair, prevent or hinder the growth of desirable species, and offer little recreational, aesthetic, or environmental benefit. A standard cutting program will involve three cycles of mowing between May and November each year.
Does the District always mow, or can vegetation management consist of other actions?
Tools used to achieve Vegetation Management goals include Vegetation Cutting, Turf Establishment, Wildflower Plantings, Reforestation, Selective Clearing, Herbicide, Pruning, and Debris Removal Operations. Typically, each of these operations is handled by one or more crews, either in-house or contract. Multi-service contracts, contracts in which one contractor handles multiple operations for a given area, are being evaluated.
Does the District clear-cut or prune vegetation that is blocking channels?
Selective Clearing is a combination of techniques used to restore or maintain optimal conveyance within channels without compromising streambed and environmental integrity. Typically, selective clearing is undertaken on the more natural channels that are overgrown with trees and shrubs. Selectice clearing operations remove undesirable vegetation and provide an environment in which desirable species can grow unimpeded. Eventually, a population of native, desirable, and diverse vegetation will dominate the channel. This desirable vegetation will have an extensive root system that anchors the soil on channel slopes, not hinder storm water conveyance, form a canopy that shades-out undesirable species, create a biodiverse habitat for wildlife, and contribute to the aesthetic value of the channel.
Pruning, as a stand-alone operation, is undertaken to cut back trees sufficiently to allow maintenance equipment access to channels, to raise tree canopies for stormwater conveyance, to maintain access to right-of-way, and to nurture healthier trees by removing dead, crossing, or diseased tree limbs. The District will not prune trees on private property.
Is the District's herbicide program safe?
The Herbicide Management Program supplements the Vegetation Management Program to control or eliminate undesirable plant species. With appropriate management restraints, herbicide applications can reduce maintenance costs, improve plant diversity, and increase storm water conveyance. Citizens can expect to see selected species of plants turning brown a few weeks after application, followed by a resurgence of desirable vegetation. Whenever herbicide must be used, the products are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and are designed to work only on targeted plants. Furthermore, the District is continually trying to discover and use application methods that are plant-specific and require less herbicide to achieve desired results. The District takes special care to ensure proper handling, according to all State and Federal Regulations. Applicators are properly trained and licensed. The products we use are safe.
How does the District include trees and wildflowers in maintenance activities?
Tree planting will reduce maintenance costs by reducing or eliminating labor-intensive operation such as vegetation cutting and clearing along reforested channels. Once mature, the trees will form a shade canopy that will suppress the growth of undesirable species that block flow and hinder conveyance. Trees also reduce erosion along the channels by stabilizing the soil with their roots and dissipating erosion-causing rainfall.
Wildflower plantings compete with undesirable grasses, grow to shorter heights than the undesirable grasses and also reduce maintenance costs by eliminating the first, and possibly the second, of three mowing cycles each year. Over several years, the reduction in cutting costs offsets the initial expense of establishing wildflowers. Wildflower plantings can also beautify the landscape, reduce complaints, and provide sustainable landscapes and wildlife habitat. Furthermore, the reduction of mowing improves water quality by preventing tons of cut organic material from entering waterways.
Can citizens plan or participate in tree or wildflower plantings?
The District will consider requests from citizens who wish to conduct tree or wildflower planting projects. The District will also consider recommendations from citizens for tree or wildflower planting projects. The District has ample opportunities for citizens to volunteer to help plant trees during the planting season from November through March.
Does the District remove debris from channels? From property?
Debris Removal operations remove dead trees and other impediments to conveyance from district channels. A number of channel locations have been identified as areas where debris collects regularly; these locations are on cyclical schedule for debris removal approximately once every eight weeks. The District also has programs to collect floatable debris (such as Styrofoam cups) from several waterways in Harris County. The District is not allowed to remove debris or trees from private property.
Does the District remove dead animals, graffiti, and rodents?
The District does not remove graffiti or eliminate rodents. Large dead animals may be removed from channels on a case-by-case basis.
What does the maintenance repair program entail? What does the District do about damage, silt, sinkholes, and erosion?
When silt accumulation, sinkholes, erosion, and damage to District property are identified by field inspectors or by citizen reports, the need for repair is analyzed and prioritized by the District. While some small-scale maintenance repair projects can be handled almost immediately, most will take from several months to several years to be designed, permitted, and executed.
Does the District repair storm sewers or outfalls?
No. The District does not repair storm sewers or outfalls unless they have been damaged due to District activities. Storm sewer outfalls belong to the road system and are maintained by the agency that is responsible for the roadway.
How can I use District property?
The District can, in some circumstances, enter into agreements that would allow you to fence, mow, adopt, landscape, build a trail, graze animals, temporarily enter, or otherwise use District property.
Can I enter District property, or is it illegal trespassing?
Unless you have permission from the District, entering District property is trespassing. Permission to enter District property may be in the form of a legal agreement, a letter or acceptance of a signed waiver. Generally, the District is unconcerned with passive visitation such as an individual walking along a channel. The District will contact law enforcement agencies and will pursue legal action if illegal activities (for example, theft, four-wheeling, dumping) are occurring on District property or if District property is being damaged (for example, rutting of channel slopes by vehicles).
Other Topics/Other Contact Info:
||Agency or Contact
||Texas Department of Transportation
|Addicks or Barker Reservoirs
||US Army Corps of Engineers
||City of Houston Rat-on-a-Rat
||311 or 713-525-2728
||Appropriate Law Enforcement Agency
||Rat-on-a-Rat (inside the City of Houston): 311
Harris County Pollution Control: 713-920-2831
Harris County Environmental Crimes: 281-371-0585
|Bridge Maintenance or Guardrails
||Railway or Local municipality
||City of Houston or Harris County Permits
||311 or 713-956-3000
** Local municipalities include the City of Houston (311), Harris County Commissioners' Precincts, and others.