Two months after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of the Texas coast and the greater Houston area, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is calling for action to prevent future flooding. "The sense of urgency created by Harvey will fade, so we must quickly commit ourselves to a comprehensive plan to redefine Harris County and the surrounding region as a global model for living and working in a flood-prone area," said Emmett in announcing a 15-point proposal to improve the county's flood control system.
One of the key items in Emmett's proposal is building a third reservoir to protect flood-prone residents in the west and northwest parts of the county. "But rather than waiting on federal funds and deciding whether it's going to be Corps of Engineers or FEMA-funded, the reservoir should be funded by the state of Texas rainy day fund," said Emmett. "It would cost about five percent of that rainy day fund for the state to just go ahead, write a check, and do it."
Emmett's plan also calls for converting Lake Houston and Lake Conroe into flood-retention facilities, and upgrading and restoring the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs to "first-class" condition. "We live in a place with lots of water and lots of watersheds," he said. "Let's make those an asset, rather than a liability."
Among the other items in Emmett's proposal is a call for automakers to develop sensors to detect high water. "One of our cars has windshield wipers that come on whenever water hits it, you've got cars with backup beepers and all kinds of things like that," said Emmett. "I bet there is a technology that could be available to detect how high the water is in front of you."