The SNND operates saltwater barriers to control saltwater intrusion in the Taylor’s and Hildebrandt Bayous.
Flood gates and navigational locks
The construction, operation and maintenance of the flood gates and navigational locks at Taylor’s Bayou plays a vital role in the economy, quality of life and protection of the people of Jefferson County. The flood gates and navigational locks also protect and enhance 59,000+ acres of precious freshwater marsh and wetland habitats by keeping salt water out of these areas and providing miles and miles of pristine waterways for recreational fishing, water sports and navigation.
The 15 existing flood gates and the four flood gates under construction, along with the navigational locks, provide the primary outfall for the 512 square mile Taylor’s Bayou Watershed. This watershed includes the tributaries of Mayhaw Bayou, Big Hill Bayou, Hildebrandt Bayou, Willow Marsh Bayou and Bayou Din.
The recent improvement projects completed by SNND and Drainage District No. 6, along with FEMA and the Texas Water Development Board, have brought the capacity of the water control structures up to match the capacity of the serving and receiving streams. These recent projects have also brought the capacity of the system up to match the flows provided by the watershed. As was shown during Hurricane Ike, the flow rates caused by the retreating storm surge are much higher than those caused by riverine flooding on Taylor’s Bayou. Therefore, having the maximum capacity available through the structures is a must, in order to return the saltwater inundation as quickly as possible to the Gulf.
In addition to conveying flood flow during times of high rainfall, the gates prevent saltwater intrusion into Taylor’s Bayou during normal tide cycles, and they also maintain the water level in the bayous for navigational purposes during low tides. There are approximately 25,000 acres of land suitable for rice farming, and currently 10,000 acres are being farmed that depend on water protected by the saltwater barrier. During periods of low rainfall, water is pumped out of these waterways for cattle operations and wildlife habitats.
SNND recently completed a new Control Building at Taylor’s Bayou with a modern control system to operate the floodgates and navigational locks. It is engineered and designed for durability during extreme environmental conditions, and will be able to remotely operate the floodgates during an evacuation or storm event.