Flood Projects to be Finished with Federal Funds

There's $5 billion of federal disaster recovery funding coming to Harris County, says U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas.

“That’s enough money to finish every federally authorized flood control project in Harris County, to build them out to a 100-year flood event -- to protect the people of Houston from the next major storm, which we know is coming, at some point,” Culberson says.

These construction projects include:

 --$75 million for the Brays Bayou Federal Project, consisting of around 21 miles of channel improvements, 11,400 acre-feet of stormwater detention volume, and 30 bridge replacements or modifications.

--$295 million for the Clear Creek Federal Project, which includes 15 miles of channel improvements and around 1,400 acre-feet of additional stormwater detention volume in several basins.

--$65 million for the Hunting Bayou Federal Project, which calls for around 4 miles of channel improvements, 1,000 acre-feet of stormwater detention volume, and 17 bridge replacements or modifications.

--$45 million for the White Oak Bayou Federal Project, consisting of over 15 miles of channel improvements and almost 3,000 acre-feet of stormwater detention volume. 

Some of the major flood projects have been in the works for decades, they weren't caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said after Harvey, flood control is job one going forward.

“And, the issue right now is, of course, if you ask, ‘are we better now, than we were pre-Harvey? The honest answer is, ‘no, not really, because we haven’t got these projects’,” said Emmett.

He said finishing flood control projects will help reduce future flood risks for all the communities behind the reservoir, as well as those downstream along Buffalo Bayou.

Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Ryan Poppe says by the end of the month, they'll present two final design packages for Project Hunting and White Oak Bayou, which they expect to be done within three to four years.

“We’re starting final design, so we’re going to have all the engineering completed for White Oak and Project Hunting, by hopefully this time next year, which will allow us to roll directly into construction,” said Poppe.

He said Brays, White Oak, Hunting, Clear Creek have been languishing, so this means they can now be finished and can move on to other projects. Brays expected to be completed by 2021.

Also included is federal funding to complete ongoing construction of four active federal flood risk reduction projects that the Flood Control District is currently working on with the Corps.

Studies, which are at full federal expense, include:

--$3 million for the Section 216 Study led by the Corps, which will evaluate the existing Addicks and Barker reservoirs and recommend operational changes and/or physical projects to improve the effectiveness of the reservoirs in reducing flood risks upstream and downstream;.

--$3 million for a county-wide drainage study to look at Harris County’s drainage infrastructure as a system, identifying potential inadequacies and potential improvements to the overall system. 

Next month, voters will be asked to approve a $2.5 billion bond package for flood risk reduction work throughout Harris County.

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