Flood Control District: A 10-year $2.5 billion plan for Harris County floodplains

HOUSTON, Texas – Three years after commencing work on projects under the Harris County Flood Control District’s $2.5 billion bond program, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matt Zeve said 2022 could have Probably the biggest spending year in the county’s history.

“We had a 10-year plan, and the way things are being laid out, we should get everything done by early 2029,” said Zeve. “But most of our spending is happening now.”

Most of that spending will come from completing three federal flood damage reduction projects next year along the Brays, Hunting and White Oak bayous — each costing more than $100 million, Zeve said.

In addition to those projects, HCFCD officials will submit a preliminary floodplain map by the end of January to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will issue a preliminary flood insurance coverage map. in the summer. Brian Edmondson, project manager for HCFCD’s Cognition, Evaluation and Modeling Project, or MAAPnext, says the new pricing could go into effect in 2024. The effort, close to $30 million, begins in January 2019, will be the first time that the entire floodplain of the county has been remapped since 2001.

In mid-December, HCFCD officials also completed a phase 2 feasibility study for the construction of an underground tunnel in Harris County to divert floodwater, Zeve said. However, the results will not be made publicly available until around 2022.

“We briefed all members of the Court Committee of the results of that study, and we received a wide range of responses,” Zeve said. “So we’re not in a position to publish the results of the tunnel study.”

Future projects

In addition to the 2018 bond program, HCFCD received $250 million from FEMA in December to fund sediment removal across eight basins over the next five years.

During 2021, HCFCD officials also completed 10 watershed planning studies, which identified new projects. While Zeve said some elected county officials have mentioned the possibility of a second flood-bond program, that will depend on how much additional debt the county can take on.

“Even if we had $100 billion instead of $2.5 billion, we could just go so fast at a time,” Zeve said. “We’d love to have all that money because then we’ll know we can do what needs to be done. But all of our projects take a certain amount of time.”

With or without other bonds, Zeve said HCFCD’s budget needs will continue to grow to repay the bonds and maintain new infrastructure.

“Every time we build a new building, we have to take care of it, and every time we have to take care of it, it costs more money,” he said.

As of mid-December, the county administrator’s office is still looking for a new HCFCD executive. Alan Black will continue to serve in this capacity in the interim.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Journalism. Flood Control District: A 10-year $2.5 billion plan for Harris County floodplains

Dais Johnston

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