While We Wait For Our Trinity Docs, We Dig Into Those Levees Repairs With the Corps

COLTWKulaOfcPhotoJun10.jpg
Brigadier General Thomas Kula
Two small but important bits of information from a long U.S. Army Corps of Engineers press gathering this afternoon:

First: In order to fix the Trinity River levee system, Dallas will have to build an impervious concrete-like barrier between the levees and the river.

Second: The barrier will have to extend down to bedrock, which in some cases is 100 feet or more beneath the surface.

That's a bunch of money. A bunch of money.

But let's be honest. In my too many years on the Trinity River beat, I find the one thing most members of the public most urgently want to know on this topic but are too shy to ask is this: What the hell is a levee?

A levee is a long 50-feet high dirt mound all along both sides of the river but a quarter-mile away from the river. The point is to hold all the flood water in when the river floods twice a year, so it won't flood the city and, you know, send a lot of baby carriages floating off to the Gulf of Mexico. Second big question a lot of people have: is it true that the city of Dallas wants to build a major highway right out in that area where it floods twice a year?

Yes, but we're not going to talk about that now. Why? Because it's Friday. It makes me too angry to talk about that. We'll talk about it another time, maybe when you're older.

So what on earth is an impervious barrier? In fact, what the hell is bedrock? Oh, just don't get all technical with me, O.K.?

They have to pour some kind of liquid crap on the levees that will harden into a waterproof skin, but thick enough so you can't break it with a baby carriage.

Bedrock is way down beneath the dirt. It's like, you know ... rock! It's the rock that is down there, underneath everything. Look, I was an English major. It's some kind of rock way down deep where fossils come from.

At today's press conference, Brigadier General Thomas W. Kula confirmed an answer to a question from the Dallas Observer that the impervious crap has to go all the way down to the level of the bedrock crap in order to keep water from seeping underneath the levees and washing them out the way some of the New Orleans levees were washed out in Katrina.

His exact remarks, when asked about this, were, "Yes."

Why is any of this important? Because the city of Dallas has to pay to fix the levee system, which is in a very serious state of disrepair because the city failed for decades to meet its obligations to maintain it.

City Manager Mary Suhm has been telling the city council the repairs can be done for less than $150 million, which means, she says, without a vote of the people to borrow more money.

But if the city is going to have to build a slurry wall down both sides of the river at great depths into the soil, the tab could be much more. Think more like a billion.

Kula explicitly declined to say how much of the levee system will have to be fixed in this way or how much it will cost.

At one point, a reporter from Fort Worth asked, "Were the levees built on sand?"

I reported that crap two years ago. What's he doing, asking a question like that now? Is he trying to undermine me? Anyway, Kula had the right answer:

"There's cases of sand existing within the levees, Kula said, "[and] within the floodway itself through various features. I guess the answer to that is that there's sand out there everywhere."

The reporter asked if the sand is what would allow the flooded river to wash away the levees "In many cases, yes," Kula said.

At the end of the meeting, I was given an orange gift bag containing a "Bobber the Water Safety Dog" coloring book and Bobber water glass.

I was cool with that.
My Voice Nation Help
32 comments
Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

I think Mary Suhm was a follower of that Camp fellow and expected the world to end Saturday.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

How come he didn't express his appreciation to Queen Mary Suhm and City Attorney Tom Perkins for taking the lead in protecting all their national security secrets associated with the Trinity River (which apparently justifies the City's lawsuit against the Attorney General, persistent refusal to comply with the Open Records Law, etc.)?

Montemalone
Montemalone

I'm envisioning the L.A. river in Dallas. A giant concrete culvert where car chases take place and space shuttles and 747s land occasionally. Although since the shuttle's about to retire, I guess we could use it for alien space ships, but why would they want to land here?

DrBevo
DrBevo

 Great reporting JimS!!!

It is so nice to hear the truth, or at least a worst-case scenario instead of the Suhm Pie-in-the-sky best-case scenario that never seems to play out. A smart business man always assumes the worst, plans for the worst, and hopes for the best. A smart business man, always under-promises and over-delivers. 

Now, this is what we get when we have a life long LIBRARIAN run the ninth largest city in the U.S. 

I guess we got what we deserved by allowing her to reign!!!!!!

Time for Suhm and Perkins to go!!!!!!!!!

Peter
Peter

So...what is the estimate of what Mary Suhm's organs might be worth on the open market? Less depreciation, of course.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

The Trinity as a "RIVER" disappeared when the levy's were built . The Trinity as it is today is a moving body water flowing through a man made flood control device .A 100 year old flood control device .Not sure how much has changed with it (The levy's) over the years but up river it is a Modern world.. Concrete covers places where the water to once  soaked in and plenty of storm drains and box culverts are guiding that water into a Pinch point as it flows through the city of Dallas.

So it looks like Dallas Is going to write the Book on how to deal with what we have and what it will take the create what we need to fix the fix that has worked all these years .With out flooding the area they are trying to protect.  .

Probably a stupid question
Probably a stupid question

If there now has to be some kind of linear concrete or "concrete-like" structure running parallel to the levees, can it be designed somehow to support elevated light rail?

Joanne R
Joanne R

we who worked day and night on trinityvote...we always asked each other:  "what's a levee?"  So, one day, I finally got up my nerve and I asked Angela.  She told me.I was speechless.  My jaw dropped.Then I said:  "They want to build a tollway down THERE? !!!!"I immediately started telling all the other volunteers what I had learned. 

They did not believe me.

Guest123
Guest123

Is anybody else sick of the know-it-all, blog obsessed Michael MacNaughton? Guy bugs the shineola out of me.

Gangy
Gangy

Jim, thank you for tenaciously pursuing the corruption.  You are giving the citizens of Dallas so much information that would not be available otherwise.  I'm trying my best to get more people to read it and vote accordingly - that's really challenging.

Whodunit
Whodunit

Precursors of things to come in July..........ACE is saying (in no uncertain terms), "Dallas, we ain't gonna approve YOUR plan." 'Time for Suhm and company to go back to the drawing board. And remember, the clock is ticking! 

DK
DK

I agree that it's always been a stupid idea to build a toll road in the Trinity Creek basin, levee or not. But can someone really highlight the risk of not fixing the levees down to the bedrock?  I realize what happened in New Orleans, but Dallas isn't built on a marsh, the Trinity Creek is not the Mississippi and Texas, unlike Louisiana, is a chronic drought zone.  So are we supposed to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on preventing a 1% chance that part of Oak Cliff will end up under water?  I need to be sold on this one. 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

All that talk of "impervious crap" that has to "go all the way down to the bedrock crap" made me think of Shineola...that little round tin of shoe polish we used in the olden days before there were artificial and permanently shiny "leather uppers".

When I was a kid the phrase "you don't know shit from shineola" was a common retort to other kids taunting "your mother dresses you funny"  (which happened to be true in my case - remember Nehru Jackets?)

Having been involved in local school board politics and DISD budgetary woes for the last two years I suddenly realized, after reading this post, that in Dallas it's often difficult to tell shit from shineola.  Some shit is covered with shineola and, except for the smell when you get close enough, looks bright and shiney and clean.  

This constant covering of bad ideas, bad decisions and bad outcomes with shineola is great for the shineola dealers in town...the rest of us are left with the stink. 

Whodunit
Whodunit

Yeah, good point. You would think that ACE might be a little upset with the Observer for trying to get ahold of all those gubermint to gubermint communications.......national security and such...........instead, ACE invites the Observer to a presser about the City's Trinity woes, and it doesn't sound like the City was invited. HMMMMMMMMMMMMM.......logic should tell everyone that Suhm/Perkins are both full of what make the grass grow green. 

TheEnlightenedOne
TheEnlightenedOne

 Wylie H. - You are dead on. I remember reading an article where the Texas AG Abbott stated that the City of Dallas has violated the Open Records Act more times than any other in the state! Perkins is completely full of shit as usual. Being full of shit has become an adhered to culture at City Hall. City Halls worst days in history are coming in the next few months, AND THEY KNOW IT!!! 

Rydell High grad
Rydell High grad

Go grease lightning your burning up the quarter mile...grease lightning, go grease lightning! 

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Hello? Is anyone listening to this brilliant DrBevo?

Whodunit
Whodunit

Since it has to extend to bedrock, it is possible that it could be designed as a "foundation" for future elevated light rail. But, you're talking about "really elevated". Otherwise, the light rail that you are thinking about would be in the same place as the now infamous trinity toll road.........blub, blub......underwater (during flood conditions) 

Peter
Peter

 We are importing young teenaged girls from Southeast Asia who will be placed in the homes of older men who have agreed to pay for their upkeep and educations, but we need volunteers to help raise the initial import fees. Will you help us?

In the meantime, will you help me look for my lost puppy?

Joanne R
Joanne R

 I happen to like Michael MacNaughton very much.  And, I enjoy reading his comments.

Susanknows
Susanknows

 Suhm doesn't have time to go back to the drawing board, her time is up - time for her to go, and take that Perkins with her. 

Marc
Marc

Droughts are the very reason why the levees must be shored up down to the bedrock. During droughts, the sand and soil beneath the river bed and along the banks, as well as the levees and the ground beneath them, become cracked and weakened. That makes them more likely to fail during a massive flood like the ones we get every now and then.

New Orleans did not flood because it was biult on a marsh. New Orleans flooded because (1) the wetlands areas that guarded the city against flooding had been destroyed by development and (2) the levee system was not maintained to prevent massive flooding.

I have no clue where you got your numbers, but we face a MUCH larger than 1% chance of severe flooding that can erode the levees protecting Dallas. Further, the amount of Oak Cliff that would be lost is miniscule compared to the amount and value of downtown Dallas property that would be destroyed if those levees fail during a flood. Such an event would paralyze our city for months.

I think that we would all agree that New Braunfels is also not built on a marsh. In 2002, it rained down there for 17 consecutive days. Canyon Lake rose from around 267,000 acre feet to more than 1 million acre feet in three days. The flood gates into the Guadalupe River could release a maximum of 5,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the lake. Water was coming into the lake from runoff in Comal and Kendall Counties at a rate of about 220,000 cfs.

Do the math - water was coming into the lake more than 39 times faster than it could be released into the river. Water washed over the spillway by 8.5 feet and cut a trench about 200 feet wide and 100 feet deep through the limestone bedrock all the way from the spillway across Dam Acess Road, across a field and into the river. It flooded over 100 homes located near the dam and backed up water from the dam with such force that it damaged the flood gates and the three hydroelectric generator turbines at the dam.

At Gonzales, more than 80 miles downriver, the Guadalupe River went from about 50-60 feet wide to 5 miles wide. It killed over 75,000 head of cattle and 43 people. It washed away very large houses and sent three of them floating down the river to their destruction resulting in prolonged pollution and contamination of the river.

The three generators at Canyon Dam were off-line for nearly three years. They had to be uninstalled, shipped back to Mississippi and rebuilt, then re-installed before the dam could resume generating electricity for that area.

If the same type rain event occurs in Dallas, then the results could, and probably would, be disastrous. There are no major cities located along the Guadalupe River. The Trinity flows through Dallas and through urban parts of Houston, so it is a major concern. A flood that takes out our levee system could cut off downtown from half, or more, of the city due to infrastructure damage to roadways and bridges causing traffic to divert for many miles to get into downtown. That would be an economic disaster and would result in major freeway congestion that would paralyze traffic flow, especially during rush hour periods.

Even if your 1% number was accurate, and it is not, that would still be an unacceptable risk, and for that reason we have no choice except to do what should have been done long ago by leaders who looked the other way instead of tackling problems that would have cost so much less to resolve back then.

It always costs a lot to resolve problems, but it always costs a lot more to do it tomorrow!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

It is the Stemmons Corridor on the North East side that folks need to be thinking about .

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Dallas is built on a marsh. It's just been paved over. Look at the old maps. Also, it's a lot more than The OC that will be underwater. Take a look at the flood maps. Also, do some math like (Damage estimate) X (Percentage chance of occurrence.)  Do you see "% chance my house will be flooded" in that equation?  No you don't, because rational people understand that the cost to the taxpayers to clean it up is born by all of us who pay taxes.

Flood maphttp://cityhallblog.dallasnews...

JimS
JimS

A marshy area with deep water channels is less prone to  flooding. An area with thin soil over sandstone and shallow channels is more prone. That's one reason the region we live in is called Flash Flood Alley.

William Ballion
William Ballion

The best part of not fixing the levee issue is that if God were so inclined, we will get a great big flood and the first set of buildings to be wasked away would be the Belo building and then City Hall. 

Say your prays and ask God to help us.

Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

"If there's a message, I guess this is it: truth isn't easy, the easy part's shit." 

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

This is shit, and this is Shinola.

cheapoldgeezer
cheapoldgeezer

By Shineola dealers I guess you mean folks like Carol Reed, Mike Rawlings, Tom Leppert, and Allyn Media, too name a few. 

Smart 6th Grader
Smart 6th Grader

Unless, of course, the marshy area is located in the proximity of the mouth of the largest river on the continent.

Montemalone
Montemalone

 It's now Saturday, and the world's gonna end today anyway.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...