Montgomery County seeks federal funds for flood mitigation study, projects

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Montgomery County will seek federal funding for a flood mitigation study and potential reservoir projects, County Judge Craig Doyal said in a statement Oct. 10. The creation of a reservoir could reduce flooding downstream of Lake Conroe, according to county officials.

During Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in late August, the peak flow into Lake Conroe was 130,000 cubic feet per second, according to the San Jacinto River Authority. Peak flow into Lake Houston was 400,000 cubic feet per second, contributing to the widespread flooding of homes in the area.

“A look at the recent volumes of water in our watersheds demonstrates that Cypress Creek, Lake Creek and Spring Creek, along with the San Jacinto’s west fork and other creeks, played a major role in Harvey flooding,” Doyal said in a statement. “Studying these watersheds may help identify projects that could impound water during storms and help reduce flooding.”

The study would also examine Montgomery County watersheds, including Cypress, Spring, Peach, Caney and Lake creeks, as well as the west fork of the San Jacinto River.

County commissioners voted to send a request to U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, for federal funding for the flood mitigation study and necessary projects. According to a statement, a proposal by engineering firm Huitt-Zollars estimates the study could cost $1.25 million in addition to $95.5 million for flood mitigation projects. However, Doyal said actual costs could exceed the initial estimate.

Montgomery County has sustained major flooding three times in two years, including the April and May 2016 floods in addition to Harvey this August.

According to the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 4,793 homes in Montgomery County sustained damage from Harvey. The county sustained more damage from Harvey than any previous disaster, according to an OHSEM statement.

Additionally, Montgomery County was awarded a $460,000 grant in 2016 from the Texas Water Development Board for a countywide flood mitigation study.

“We cannot build reservoirs on our own,” Doyal said.

The call for the study received a resolution from The Woodlands Township board of directors during its Oct. 19 meeting in an effort to show united support from communities along Spring Creek and its tributaries.

“It is much more likely to get funded if everybody is agreeable and wanting to work together. So far, it looks like we have a cohesive plan for the regional issues,” township Chairman Gordy Bunch said. “This resolution is just our part of making sure when the consortium [of representatives]goes to Congress that every entity along the creek and watersheds are all in favor of this.”

Bunch said in addition to the county working to find solutions to flooding issues, it will also be important to involve surrounding counties, such as Harris and Waller, in the planning process as well as communities located along Spring Creek.

“It does us no good to mitigate locally if down the stream, the mitigation work stops,” he said. “We may just increase the velocity of the flow of water and once it hits a backlog downstream, it’s still going to back up.”

Bunch said the study is an answer to residents who have been calling for more comprehensive flood mitigation in response to repeated flooding.

“So [residents]have asked for meaningful and tangible results to help mitigate future flooding events—this is our best opportunity for a coordinated joint government effort that is also positioned to be asking for the funding to implement the mitigation process,” he said.

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Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.
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