Addicks, Barker watershed desilting projects get green light to improve floodwater detention
The week after Houston-area voters overwhelming approved $2.5 billion in emergency flood risk reduction bonds, Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the Harris County Flood Control District to begin negotiating contracts for numerous projects, including efforts to desilt the Addicks and Barker reservoir watersheds.
This is the first wave of projects given the green light following the special election August 25, when nearly 86 percent of those casting ballots voted in favor of the bonds.
Cleaning up channels draining in the two reservoirs became a priority in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Harvey, which along with previous floods – such as 2016’s Tax Day flood – left behind silt and sediment that impedes detention and conveyance along numerous channels draining into the reservoirs.
IDS Engineering Group will provide design, bidding and construction-phase engineering services to desilt the reservoirs’ watersheds and some of their tributaries.
Beyond desilting in West Houston, the flood control district will also begin drainage improvements and erosion repairs along the San Jacinto River, Cypress Creek, Luce Bayou, Sims Bayou, Armand Bayou and Cedar Bayou watersheds; conveyance improvements along Willow Creek; and a Greens Bayou stormwater detention basin project.
Residents can keep up with active repairs and improvements through the flood control district’s interactive construction projects map found here.
The bond measure will allow the flood control district to spend around $450 million annually on projects, according to the flood control district. Before the bond election, just $60 million was budgeted for the county’s flood control projects, with another $60 slated for maintenance. Bond funds will also be leveraged to access $900 million to $2 billion in matching federal dollars.
The commissioners court also approved the immediate hiring of 20 new employees at the flood control district. Eventually, the district says, it plans hire as many as 70 additional staff and consultants to administer bond projects.
All told, 237 projects are being considered for development over 10 to 15 years. Harris County plans to spend $1.2 billion for channel improvements, $401 million for detention basins, $242 million for floodplain land acquisition, $12.5 million for new floodplain mapping and $1.25 million for an improved early flood warning system. Another $500 million remains unallocated to pay for projects identified in the future.
The complete list of proposed flood-resiliency projects across all off the county’s 23 watersheds can be seen here.