SSCI Environmental

Founded in 1986, SSCI specializes in enhancing the environment through its sound solutions approach. “Getting the job done is priority number one, not prolonging our participation,” says Helen I. Hodges, President and CEO.

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A look a Harris County Flood Control District

With over 4 million people living and working in Harris County and nine-eight percent of the population living in urban areas, we rely upon our roadways and drainage ways to keep us moving.  Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) is charged with devising flood damage reduction plans, implement the plans, and maintaining the infrastructure.

HCFCD was created by the Texas Legislature in 1937 in response to devastating floods in 1929 and 1935.  In addition to serving the 1,756 square miles of Harris County, the district includes the 22 primary watersheds that flow within the county boundaries and total over 2,500 miles in length.  Presently, street drainage is handled by Harris County but the bayous and channels are handled by HCFCD. HCFCD maintains over 2,500 miles of bayous and creeks and 35,000 right of ways.

The City of Houston was founded on August 30, 1836 by Augustus C. Allen and John K.  Allen who paid just over $1.40 per acre for the 6,642 acres of land on Buffalo Bayou.  Texas independence had just been won by General Sam Houston’s Texas army on April 21, 1836 and Houston was incorporated in 1837.  The Allen brothers established the town at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou.  Heavy rain and flooding lead the early settlers to “drain” the land and to clear it of natural vegetation making room for towns, agricultural development, and new construction.  Channels were constructed to drain the water to a lower gradient and the channels became deeper and wider as the flood waters rose and flowed to the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston experienced 16 major floods from 1836 to 1936.  The 1929 flood resulted in over $1.4 million in property loss with double that loss in the 1935 flood.  The Port of Houston, railroads, and business districts came to a stand still due to these devastating floods.  Since creation of the HCFCD, Harris County has experienced over 30 damaging floods with the most notable being Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979, Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, Hurricane Ike in 2008, Memorial Day and Halloween Floods in 2015, and multiple spring and fall floods in 1989, 2009, 1981, 1998, and 1994.

The most recent of these storm events, the Memorial Day of 2015, resulted in areas receiving 10 or more inches of rainfall in a six hour period. This was the most significant rainfall event for the Houston area since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.  Between 3,000 and 6,000 homes were damaged and over 7,000 motorists were stranded.  HCFCD estimates that over 8,000 homes along Brays Bayou were saved from any flood damage because of the flood damage reduction projects completed in the past 20 years which included detention basins and channel improvements.

The Halloween Storm of 2015 occurred on October 30th and 31st and included severe flash flooding, one fatality, flooding of over 400 structures, and flooding of multiple roadways in Harris County.  Federal projects that had been completed along Sims Bayou, Brays Bayou, White Oak Bayou, Halls Bayou, Greens Bayou, and Hunting Bayou prevented damages to thousands homes.

HCFCD serves as a local partner to leverage federal tax dollars for flood damage control.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has provided major federal funding for drainage projects in Harris County since the 1930s.  Capital Improvement projects for HCFCD are posted online for Fiscal Years 2017 to 2021. Recently completed projects between the district works with the USACE include Sims Bayou, Clear Creek, and Greens Bayou.

Sims Bayou (construction completed in 2015)

  • $395 million total cost
  • HCFCD share $125 million (32%); Corps share $270 million (68%)
  • 4 percent (25-year) level of flood protection (under full development)
  • 1 percent (100-year) floodplain removed from approximately 35,000 homes and 2,000 commercial structures (according to original Corps estimates)
  • Benefit-to-Cost ratio = 6.5

Clear Creek (General Reevaluation Report approved in 2013)

  • $193 million total estimated cost; expenditures to date total $55 million
  • HCFCD and two other Local Sponsors share $68 million (35%); Corps share $125 million (65%)
  • 1 percent (100-year) floodplain removed from approximately 2,100 structures
  • Benefit-to-Cost ratio = 1.8

Greens Bayou (design and construction underway)

  • $58 million total estimated cost
  • HCFCD share $9 million (25%); Corps share $29 million (75%)
  • 10 percent (10-year) level of protection for partial development
  • Benefit-to-Cost ration = 4.9

HCFCD also partners with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to implement both structural and nonstructural projects to reduce the risk of flooding as well as manage flood insurance rates in Harris County.

SSCI has a long standing relationship with HCFCD, USACE, and FEMA and has provided storm water, detention/retention pond, and wetland and ecological services to these agencies.  In partnership with our clients, SSCI has assisted land developers, property owners, and investment groups with navigating the permitting and compliance issues related to living and working in the bayou city.

 

Article Sources:

Harris County Flood Control District, www.hcfcd.org

HCFCD Annual CIP Report for FY 2017

HoustonHistory.com

 

 

Wetlands Permitting, Continuing Education

Project Manager, Chrystal Fretwell, recently attended a Wetland Permitting Workshop based on the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Regulation and the Clean Water Act (CWA) Enforcement requirements.  The workshop included documentation of wetland delineations, review of hydric soils, and performance of a Hydrology and Hydric Soils Field Practicum at Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center in Humble, Texas.

 Gathering soil data using the Munsell Soil Color Book. Wild strawberries growing at the Jesse Jones Park & Nature Center.
   
 Iron deposit fissures in the soil indicate hydric soils. Soil testing location.

Mr. Jim Herrington, PWS was the course instructor.  Mr. Herrington, PWS has over 30 years of professional Natural Resources experience, and worked for the Environmental Professional Agency (EPA) for 14 years of his career.  Ms. Fretwell, “Found this workshop highly informative, with Mr. Herrington, PWS having a profound amount of knowledge regarding wetland classification and permitting”.  Ms. Fretwell further stated, “I can’t wait to continue my wetland education, by attending a second Wetland Permitting Workshop in November of 2017”!

SSCI provides Wetland and Ecological Services, and we can’t wait to utilize Ms. Fretwell’s newly found knowledge on projects!

Drones in Environmental Investigations

The usage of drones by civilians has increased significantly over the past few years.  An estimated 600,000 drones will be in use by commercial enterprises by 2018. The top industry using drones in the United States is photography with the second largest being real estate ( DMR, www.expandedramblings.com).  Drones have been used in military applications for years but as the drones move to the commercial industry and to hobbyists, concerns have been raised regarding safety and enforcement of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.  The FAA refers to drones as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and regulations apply for personal and professional use.  With drones becoming more common, it’s important to know the rules.  Even if you’re just flying a drone for fun, you must register with the FAA, stay at least 5 miles away from airports unless you have prior permission from air traffic control, and have the drone in a person’s line of sight at all times.  Visit the FFA’s website for rules regarding Fly for Fun, Fly for Work.

Scientists have been exploring the use of drones in environmental applications for several years.  Drones can be used to collect ecological data by aerial surveillance without disturbing sensitive environments or species thus limiting human interaction that can often be damaging to the environment.  Drones have also been applied to situations to minimize the risk of human injury such as surveying elevated heights or assessing conditions that may result in physical danger.  The usage of drones also provides efficiency in surveying.  For example, drones are used to survey pipeline corridors from remote stations saving both time and energy by not using aerial flight to photograph corridors.  Drones use a number of imaging techniques including infrared sensing, which can be used to measure vegetation growth and photogrammetry, a remote sensing process that creates an “ortho-mosaic” of the area.  This technology has been used in real estate functions such as Property Condition Assessments and Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.  Other environmental applications include detecting water intrusion, animal management and conservation, coastal management, river and flood management, plant conservation, forestry, regulation enforcement, and monitoring change.

There are two UAS Platform Types of drones: fixed wing and rotary. Fixed wing drones generate lift through wings while rotary drones generate lift by rotating propellers. This allows rotary drones to land and takeoff from the ground while fixed wing drones must be started by throwing into the air. Fixed wings have longer endurance times, are generally faster, and are more efficient for large areas. Rotary drones are more flexible, can hover, fly lower, and are better for inspections/higher resolution pictures. Both drones can be autonomously flown using apps or by defining a set path.  Drones are now being researched for use to count livestock, check fence lines and roads, find missing animals, and measure the nutritive value of forage.

SSCI participated in a webinar entitled “Drones on Rangelands–The Basics” presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service ecosystem science and management unit.  In the presentation, an example of drone use in range land application was provided.  The drones map out the area surveyed and then a computer software is used to search for the shape of the cattle and take out the background aerial image leaving only the cattle, as seen on the right side with the yellow background. The program then counts the number of outlines of cattle.

Summer is Here, 2017 Company Picnic

SSCI recently held its annual Ranch Picnic located at the Hodges Ranch in Santa Fe, Texas. SSCI was also happy to host CRG Texas Environmental Services, Inc. at the annual Ranch Picnic.  This year’s Ranch Picnic featured a wide variety of delicious Texas BBQ!  From ribs, chicken, sausage, and smoked brisket to tasty sweet treats, a fun time was had by all!  Friendly competitive games of corn-hole and croquet commenced between a few SSCI and CRG employees throughout the afternoon.  A ranch tour was provided by Ms. Helen Hodges, President of SSCI, to all who attended the festivities.  Throughout the tour Ms. Hodges showed guests a few of her retired performance horses, her beef cattle, and a tour of her lovely ranch home.

 

All guests left the Ranch Picnic far too full of BBQ and with many fond memories!  Planning for the 2018 SSCI Ranch Picnic is already underway!

 

Southeast Texas Cooperative Purchasing Organization

Separation Systems Consultants, Inc. has been awarded a vendor contract by the Southeast Texas Cooperative Purchasing Organization.   Cooperative buying can provide lower prices and better quality for school districts.   Region 5 Education Service Center (ESC) acts as the coordinator for this cooperative and facilitates the process needed for it to be successful.  Through the ESC Region 5, SSCI has been awarded an Environmental Services contract.

Purchasing Cooperative Members include school districts, colleges, cities, counties, and charter schools.  Members participating in the SETCP can access SSCI’s vendor profile by searching the Vendor Database.

Southeast Texas Purchasing Cooperative
Awarded Vendors

June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018

Company Name:
Separation Systems Consultants, Inc.
Contact Person:
Jo Keim
Address:
17041 El Camino Real, Suite 200
City, State Zip:
Houston, TX 77058
Telephone Number:
281-486-1943
Fax Number:
281-486-7415
Email Address:
jdkeim@sscienvironmental.com
Website (www.):
www.sscienvironmental.com
EIN Number:
76092206
Printable W9:
76092206.pdf
Discount:
Call for quote
Shipping:
N/A
Comments:

 

Provides Service:
Environmental consulting, Phase I & II ESAs, asbestos & lead surveys, remediation, soil and groundwater sampling and waste disposal.
Category 1:
Environmental Services

 

 

 

Keep Galveston Bay Clean Public Meeting

Galveston Bay Foundation wants Bay area residents to have a stake in keeping harmful bacteria out of Galveston Bay. That’s why GBF will host this public meeting at the Civic Center in League City on Monday, June 12, at 6:30 pm to update residents on our plan to keep our waters clean.

In partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and local stakeholders, GBF is working to keep bacteria out of the Bay through improving wastewater treatment plant operations, improving pollution reporting strategies, eliminating boater waste and more.

Galveston Bay Foundation wants Bay area residents to have a stake in keeping harmful bacteria out of Galveston Bay. That’s why we are hosting this public meeting to update residents on plans to keep our waters clean.

Date: Monday, June 12
Time: 6:30 – 7:30pm
Location: Civic Center in League City (400 W Walker St, League City, TX 77573)

If you have any questions, please contact Nate Johnson at njohnson@galvbay.org or 281-332-3381.

Earth Day, April 22, 2017

SSCI will be celebrating Earth Day tomorrow, April 22, 2017 at the Party for the Planet  at Armand Bayou Nature Center.  Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about the environment.  The day, marked on April 22, is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects. The first Earth Day was in 1970.  For more information about the history of Earth Day, visit Live Science.

Party for the Planet is being hosted by Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) Board of Trustees.  ABNC stands out as one of the largest urban wilderness preserves in the United States, providing the community with exceptional educational, recreational, and health benefits of nearby nature. ABNC is planning for the future to ensure ecosystem preservation and to educate our community about preservation and the benefits of nature.  The Party for the Planet is on Saturday evening, April 22nd includes honorary guest Senator Larry Taylor with live music by Andy and the Dreamsicles.  The evening will be topped off with a catered dinner, dancing, charitable auctions, and games.