As residents and businesses in West Houston continue to cope with the aftershock of being submerged for more than a week after Hurricane Harvey left Houston, The Energy Corridor District Board of Directors is launching a stormwater and detention study of the area.
The Post-Hurricane Harvey Stormwater and Detention Audit will analyze the operations of both Barker and Addicks reservoirs during the unprecedented Hurricane Harvey Rainfall, study how the reservoirs normally function during a storm event and recommend measures that may be taken to prevent future catastrophic flooding in the Energy Corridor.
Jones|Carter, a Houston-based engineering firm with 41 years of experience, is conducting the audit.
While many in the region are now studying Harvey’s impact and Houston’s ability to cope with severe weather, the Post-Hurricane Harvey Stormwater and Detention Audit is focused on a part of town where emergency releases from Addicks and Barker reservoirs flooded businesses, major roadways and thousands of homes long after the pounding rains ceased falling.
The audit will begin by collecting rainfall data on the areas that drain into Barker and Addicks, as well as the areas downstream of the reservoirs. Jones|Carter will then look at historical rainfall events, reservoir levels and dam operations as far back as 70 years ago when designs for Addicks and Barker came to fruition.
The District’s board also hopes to gain a better understanding of the Buffalo Bayou floodplain, which cuts through the Energy Corridor. A riverine model of Buffalo Bayou downstream of Barker and Addicks reservoirs will be developed to evaluate the floodplain under several scenarios.
“Harvey’s devastation left behind many questions,” says Clark Martinson, executive director for the District. “How much rain fell here, how does that compare to historical rainfall, as well as the design intended for the reservoirs, what specific areas flooded and by how much. The audit will compile that information, while looking at the release schedules from the dams and operations of the reservoirs.
“That insight can pave the way toward developing realistic flood mitigation solutions for the Energy Corridor,” explained Martinson, “including such things as floodwater conveyance along Buffalo Bayou, additional detention and the way the dams are operated and maintained.”
The audit dovetails The District’s active participation with a wide variety of regional flood mitigation planning and evaluation efforts.
David Hightower, president of the District’s board of directors, is part of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Redevelopment and Drainage Task Force, which includes city and county officials, engineers, neighborhood activists, developers and non-profit representation. Martinson is engaged in a host of city and county initiatives related to development, drainage and flood mitigation.