The Harris County Flood Control District has abandoned a proposed $12.5 million channel widening project in Horsepen Bayou, according to a Dec. 19 news release.

This shift follows HCFCD discussions with local officials that led to a reassessment, focusing efforts on alternative drainage solutions in the region for better flood damage mitigation, according to the release.

The background

The HCFCD proposed widening Horsepen Bayou in Clear Lake to mitigate floods after Hurricane Harvey, Community Impact previously reported.

The project aimed to widen 3 miles of the bayou by 20 feet. Plans did not include a detention pond due to county property constraints.

Some residents, especially in the Bay Oaks community, opposed the plan due to fence removal and loss of natural beauty, and favored alternative solutions such as a detention pond, according to previous reporting.

The update

The HCFCD re-evaluated the Horsepen Bayou project, considering updated flood risk data and the impact of completed parts of Exploration Green, a 200-acre urban green space and stormwater detention center, which reduced flood risks for many homes along the bayou, according to the release.

After discussions with officials, the district opted not to proceed with the Horsepen Bayou Channel Improvements Project due to diminished benefits as a result of Exploration Green's completion during the project’s study period.

Engineers explored stormwater detention upstream of the site but found it posed risks to aircrafts and homes near Ellington Airfield, according to the release. The associated costs and land acquisition issues were also prohibitive.

Going forward

“The Flood Control District must use public funds responsibly,” said Herman Sanders, communications lead at Harris County Flood Control District. “There is a point where the cost of constructing improvements no longer makes sense based on the number of properties that will benefit and the potential impacts to the surrounding community.”

Instead of advancing the Horsepen Bayou project, the HCFCD plans to investigate other local drainage projects to mitigate flood damage in the area, according to the release.

“Going forward, we plan to investigate local area drainage projects that may contribute to flood damage reduction in this area,” Sanders said. “We plan to explore where to invest the available funds and will keep this area informed when there is new information to be shared.”