The Orange County Drainage District has a goal of getting three major bayous cleaned of fallen trees and other debris by August.
Barges from contractors started last week on Little Cypress Bayou. When that is completed, the contractors will go to Adams Bayou and then Cow Bayou. All three drain into the Sabine River.
Austin Barrow, assistant drainage district manager, said the bayous project is costing about $1.5 million. The district has a grant to help pay for the work through the National Resource Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The district hired Aftermath Disaster Recovery for the clean-up. Barrow said the company currently has three barges in Little Cypress Bayou. The barges are equiped with grapples, saws, and other tools needed. Each barge can carry more than 100 cubic yards of debris.
Barrow said loaded barges are dropping off the debris under the Interstate 10 Bridge on the Sabine River. Drainage district trucks and crews are then sorting the debris.
Trees and and other vegetation are being taken to a section of the old Riverside housing land off Simmons Drive. Barrow said agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Historic Commission have approved to let the vegetation be burned.
Barrow said other debris, like household appliances and building materials, will be properly disposed in landfills.
The debris removal is not the same as dredging, Barrow said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been informed of the debris removal, but does not have to issue a permit for it, he added.
The removal on Little Cypress Bayou started June 3 at FM 3247 and is going southward to the Sabine River. Barrow expects the work to be finished next week.
Aftermath Disaster Recovery will do most of the work on Adams and Cow Bayou. Debris removal on those bayous will go northward. Drainage district crews will do the debris removal as those bayous go into the northern part of the county.
The Adams Bayou project will begin with the barges at FM 1006, or the Orange Boat Club, all the way to Eight Gate Road on the property of Wayne Peveto. The drainage district will do the work past FM 1078.
Peveto is a farmer, a retired lawyer and a former state representative. Barrow said Peveto has given right-of-way access to the drainage district to burn removed debris on his property, and permits have been aquired.
The debris on the southern part of Adams Bayou removed by barges will be handled like the Little Cypress Bayou debris and burned at the Riverside site.
Cow Bayou in Bridge City will be the last of the three bayous. Barges will begin at Highway 87 (Texas Avenue) and clean northward. The drainage district’s portion will then go up to Highway 12 in Mauriceville.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-