Houston’s growth rate over the past 50 years saw neighborhoods spring up along the edges and each added its own water well. Eventually the area was covered with wells pumping out water and the land began to subside.
To decrease the rate of subsidence the City of Houston began building large water treatment plants on the east side near the rivers and large diameter water lines across the city to transport the water to those neighborhood distribution systems.
Tom served for eight years as the Construction Manager for the Surface Water Transmission Program managing 20 prime contracts installing water lines that ranged up to 108-inch diameter. Total value of the contracts was over $103M.
The 108″-diameter line was installed in a narrow neighborhood street in east Houston. The lines were also installed on major thoroughfares, hi-dollar neighborhoods and impacted major businesses. A 36” line was on Sage Ave. and the placement had to be coordinated with the Galleria II (one of the largest shopping malls in Houston) to minimize the closure of their only freight entrance to that very large retail facility. A 36” line was also installed by tunneling under Buffalo Bayou with a tunnel boring machine.
Major additions to mid-city pumping stations were built and the large lines tied in to maintain the higher pressure in the transmission system. Two to four construction contractors were underway at all times and Tom managed the field staff that oversaw the work and the geotechnical testing.
Often the trenching was in the contaminated plume of a former gasoline station and the excavated soil had to be disposed of in an approved landfill. The ground water could usually be treated by air stripping and, after testing, disposed of in the sanitary sewer system.
Traffic control was always a major effort to keep the lane closure barricades and markers in place to maintain a safe street while allowing access to the residences and businesses.
Subsidence has decreased.