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Aransas Co. officials disagree with residents’ flooding claims

Posted: 3:05 PM, Sep 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-18 20:00:18-04

ARANSAS PASS – Aransas County is drying out after 20 inches of rain over the last 10 days soaked residents and left many properties flooded.

On Sawyer Lane, there’s still plenty of water on the road and in people’s yards.  Residents there believe their drainage problems started after Hurricane Harvey, but county officials disagree.

“The drainage problem that we have on Sawyer, and there is certainly a drainage problem, was a problem before Harvey,” Aransas County Engineer David Reid said.

So what caused properties on Sawyer Lane and other nearby roads to flood?  Reid believes the answer lies in elevation and geography.

“The topography is such that there’s depressions all over the place and it holds water,” he said.  “We don’t have streams and rivers like a lot of counties do.”

Residents believe debris in ditches after Hurricane Harvey caused the problem.  County officials and FEMA told people to put their debris in the ditches to expedite removal.  Once the debris was removed, the ditches weren’t re-dug. Now, officials say that re-digging those ditches simply isn’t viable.

“The problem with Sawyer Lane is there’s a 40- foot right of way, it’s a narrow right of way,” said Reid.  “Normally we would want 60 feet of right of way, and there’s not a lot of room to dig the ditches.”

Aransas County spent $5 million over the last seven years to find a way to re-direct the flow of water, but some of the land they need is privately owned.

“The biggest problem is getting the water to the bay,” Reid said. “We don’t have the drainage easements to go from 1069 to the bay.”

Officials say Aransas County is working on a solution to get water to flow to the bay more efficiently.  They hope to have easements in place by the end of the year, so that work can start early next year.

Officials estimate digging a drainage ditch from FM 1069 to the bay would cost about $500,000, if the county doesn’t have to purchase the necessary easements from property owners.

Water stands in a drainage ditch along Sawyer Lane Tuesday. County officials disagree with residents' claims debris from Hurricane Harvey helped cause the flooding.
Water stands in a drainage ditch along Sawyer Lane Tuesday. County officials disagree with residents’ claims debris from Hurricane Harvey helped cause the flooding.