The bond, approved by Harris County voters in August 2018, includes 237 flood damage reduction projects aimed for completion countywide over the next 10-15 years. Eighty-six of those projects are subdivision drainage improvement projects aimed at enhancing water flow in neighborhoods that are not in flood plains but still flooded previously due to poor drainage, Harris County Engineer John Blount said.
Previously the projects were slated for completion within 5 1/2 years, as 27 of the projects would be delayed while the county waited for federal funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which Blount said could take anywhere from a year to a year and a half to receive.
“I’m proposing we go ahead and upfront pay for those [27 projects], get those subdivisions ready so when the HUD funding comes, we're not asking for design money, we’re asking for construction money so we’re ready to go,” Blount said during the meeting. “Traditionally, after [Tropical Storm] Allison and [Hurricane] Ike, we got leftover funds that nobody else could spend because we moved faster than anyone else—this is the same concept.”
The 86 subdivision drainage projects—indicated on the Harris County Flood Control District’s bond program map with red diamonds—will provide relief to 105 subdivisions, some of which include Bear Creek Village, Williamsburg Colony, Meadow Lake, Apache Land, Almeda Heights, Cypress Creek Estates, Creek Country, Ralston Acres, Northlake Forest, Barrett Station, Skeetville, McKenzie Park and Barwood, according to a July 9 news release.
Following a unanimous vote by the court to approve $60 million to move forward with the projects, all 86 projects are expected to be completed ahead of the 2023 and 2024 hurricane seasons.
“It [will] decrease [the construction timeline] from 5 1/2 years to four years, saving us one to two hurricane seasons,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting. “I think getting ahead of the hurricane seasons and getting this drainage done is huge.”
Hidalgo added the majority of the flooding that hit Kingwood in May was not due to the county’s bayous and channels failing, but due to poor drainage in the neighborhoods, hindering the water’s ability to flow properly.
The projects are expected to help water flow out of neighborhoods and into the county’s channels and bayous where they are supposed to go, Blount said.
For more information about Harris County’s ongoing flood bond program, click here.