Bear Branch Dam will receive significant upgrades thanks to $3.6 million in federal funding

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 02/26/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX – Federal, state, and local elected officials gathered at the Bear Branch Dam in The Woodlands to celebrate the announcement of funding for the dam’s proposed modification project.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw joins local leaders to mark the event

The Bear Branch Dam Modification Project is a rehabilitation and water conveyance project in The Woodlands managed by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) on behalf of the Woodlands Water Agency (WWA). The project includes soil cement repairs and service spillway replacement improving conveyance and eliminating potential erosion of the spillway. Constructed in 1983, the Bear Branch Dam provides drainage and flood mitigation benefits to the northern portions of The Woodlands Township.

Aubrey Spear, P.E. General Manager San Jacinto River Authority, welcomed the assembly. “We’re honored to welcome our congressman to The Woodlands. We’re proud to show off this wonderful community and the work we do on behalf of The Woodlands,” he said.

In addition to welcoming Congressman Dan Crenshaw, Spear also recognized other elected officials in attendance, including SJRA Board President Ronnie Anderson and board members Ed Boulware and Stephanie Johnson; WWA Board President Bob Lux; Municipal Utility District representatives Diane Nielson, 46 George Newman, and David Smith; representatives from State Senator Brandon Creighton’s office; Woodlands Township Board Directors Dr. Ann Snyder, Richard Franks, and Cindy Heiser; and WWA General Manager Erich Peterson. There were numerous other municipal and elected officials in attendance.

“The Woodlands Water Agency and the San Jacinto River Authority have had a unique, decades-long partnership,” said Peterson. “This partnership between SJRA, the MUDS, and local government is a great example of various entities coming together for the good of the community to get things done. I want to thank Congressman Crenshaw, our partners at SJRA, and all of our MUD directors for their work in securing this funding. We also appreciate the support of our county commissioners and Township board of directors who are always willing to support projects that make our area the best place to live, work, play, and pray.”

The total estimated project cost is $5 million. The project received $3.6 million in federal community directed funding from U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw.

“It’s great to be here today and to be with all of you who have worked so hard to make this project possible,” said Crenshaw. “After more than 40 years of operations, I would say it’s time for some upgrades that will reinforce the dam and protect the community for the next 45 to 60 years. I’m proud I’ve been able to secure the funds. This project is critical for flood mitigation efforts for the community, because it will improve stormwater and runoff drains to the reservoir at approximately eight miles of conveyance channels known as Bear Branch, Alden Branch, and Upper Panther Branch. Upgrading the drainage at the Bear Branch Dam area will lessen the risk of flooding at Research Forest and will also allow for greater access to the community in adverse weather, including better access for police and fire to respond as needed without further delay. Rest assured, I will continue to always support flood mitigation projects whether through federal grants, community projects, or appropriations funding to do whatever it takes to ensure that residents never live in fear of storms like Hurricane Harvey. I’m proud to be a part of this.”

The remaining local share – as well as funding for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Bear Branch Drainage System – is provided by the five WWA-member MUDs that discharge their stormwater into the Bear Branch Drainage System (Montgomery County MUD No. 7, Montgomery County MUD No. 46, Montgomery County MUD No. 47, Montgomery County No. 60, and Montgomery County MUD No. 67). Each pays a pro-rata share of operating funds based on the number of equivalent single-family connections that drain to the Bear Branch Drainage System.

Engineering design is slated to begin during Fiscal Year 2024 and construction is anticipated to begin during Fiscal Year 2026.

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