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Houston Regional Group - News
Addicks Dam/Grand Parkway Litigation Proceeds to Motions for Summary Judgment and Decision on the Merits
Evelyn Merz

The hearing for a preliminary injunction on Segment E of the Grand Parkway ended on Wednesday afternoon, November 16th. Our case, Sierra Club vs. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers et.al., is centered on the increased risks resulting from the additional runoff into the Addicks Reservoir that would be generated from the Segment E construction and secondary development in the Addicks and Upper Cypress Creek watersheds. Addicks Dam (and also Barker Dam) have been classified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Level 1, the highest rank, in posing an "Urgent and Compelling" danger of failure. Of about 300 dams rated by the Corps under its Dam Safety Action Classification (DSAC), only 6 have been ranked as Level 1 - and Addicks and Barker Dams are two of them.

Our case was presented by Jim Blackburn, with additional counsel from Mary Carter, David Kahne, and Mary Conner. Larry Dunbar, P.E., testified as our expert witness in hydrology. We had a good showing of 14 supporters present in the courtroom.

Although we did not receive the preliminary injunction, we were pleased with the overall outcome. Judge Ellison gave two reasons for not issuing the preliminary injunction:

  1. The Sierra Club could not post a bond of $100,000 + plus per day as requested by the plaintiffs.
  2. We did not prove that irreparable harm would occur within the next 3 months if the preliminary injunction were not granted.

Judge Ellison issued his decision after hearing opening arguments from each side, testimony from Larry Dunbar, and cross-examination of Dunbar. During his comments, he indicated that he understood the situation with the cumulative impacts of the project, but that the Sierra Club had not met the criteria as per items #1 and #2 above.

Judge Ellison wants to proceed to a decision on the merits of the case and has set an ambitious schedule as follows:

  1. The administrative record is to be filed by Dec. 20th.
  2. Thirty days after the administrative record is filed or after Dec. 20th, whichever is earlier, motions for summary judgment must be filed by the two parties.
  3. Twenty days afterward, each party must file a response brief.
  4. Ten days afterward, each party files a reply to the opposing response.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 713-644-8228 or elmerz@hal-pc.org .  

November 2011

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Last updated:  11/20/2011.   Content 1999-2011 by the Sierra Club.