The city of Bellaire is one step closer to addressing long-term flooding over the next 10-20 years after council members approved a contract Dec. 19 to work with engineering firm Ardurra Group Inc., which was tasked to manage its drainage improvement program.

“In the coming year, we’ll work with Ardurra to develop flood mitigation projects, engage regional partners to advance those projects and secure grant funding to implement them,” said City Manager Sharon Citino.

Three projects the city identified as critical to starting will involve working with the city of Houston and the Harris County Flood Control District to configure if Cypress Ditch can expand its capacity to drain stormwater faster and away from homes. Most of the city’s stormwaters flows west along Beechnut Street from Chimney Rock Road as part of Cypress Ditch, according to Joshua Pascua, Bellaire capital projects and grants manager. The second project is partnering with Texas Department of Transportation to expand box culverts under Loop 610 so that stormwaters can drain more easily to Brays Bayou. The third critical project is building a regional detention facility in the city.

The 12-month agreement with the firm is part of what the city calls its Master Drainage Concept Plan, outlining the areas most vulnerable to flooding and the potential means to combat damage to residential areas. In the first phase of the project, both parties will focus on nine tasks, including hosting two community open houses, maintaining a project-specific website for the public, preparing policy decisions for City Council on flood damage prevention ordinances and development codes, fine-tuning a hydraulic model and developing drainage criteria needed for projects.

“What are the criteria we need for these projects? This is super important because the right criteria will help us save millions because if we don’t have the right criteria, we don’t have a good foundation to build upon,” Pascua said at the Dec. 19 meeting.

City Council members approved phase one costs at the meeting, which are not to exceed $390,795. The overall anticipated 2023 budget for all projects within the plan is $5.7 million, according to Bellaire City Council’s agenda packet.

Ardurra Group completed similar drainage and pavement projects to local areas inside Loop 610 along Shepherd Drive, Buffalo Speedway and Kirby Drive, according to Pascua’s City Council presentation. Future tasks after phase one include starting the design work for the three critical projects.