The San Jacinto River Authority released Phase 1 of its Flood Protection Planning Project—a more than two-year project studying flood plains in and around the West Fork of the San Jacinto River—on Feb. 25.
In addition to upgrades to the early-warning system and rain gauges, Phase 1 also highlights potential strategies to prevent flooding along the river.
The report was compiled by Richardson-based Halff Associates engineering, architecture and environmental planning, which has a Conroe office.
SJRA Flood Management Director Chuck Gilman said the SJRA has no way to fund these projects, so funding would be up to local municipalities and Montgomery County.
“Either the county or the city will have to try to raise the funds or partner with [the Texas Department of Transportation]for some of the transportation improvements,” Gilman said. “We’re happy to continue to help with regional planning, but when it comes time to go and build the infrastructure, we really need the support of partnerships with those taxing entities that can leverage a tax rate increase.”
The report showcases four potential projects for the West Fork San Jacinto River and three for Alligator Creek, which runs near downtown Conroe. West Fork’s potential projects include improvements to the FM 2854 bridge, creating a bypass channel around the FM 2854 bridge, expanding the channel and structural buyouts, according to the report.
As for Alligator Creek, projects could include culvert improvements and road reconstruction, improving the South Loop 336 West bridge—a place overcome by floodwaters during extreme storms—and increasing the channel capacity, according to the report.
In July, the SJRA requested roughly $1.1 million from the Texas Water Development Board to fund Phase 2 of the Flood Protection Project, which includes real-time operations tools to predict how Lake Conroe dam releases will affect the surrounding area as well as a site feasibility study about a reservoir along the Spring Creek watershed.
However, the TWDB recently rejected the Spring Creek reservoir portion of the application and only approved $150,000 to study the operations tools. Sam Hinojosa, Halff’s director of water resource, said Phase 2 will begin in March and is slated for completion in one year.
Gilman said the SJRA plans to work with The Woodlands-area municipal utility districts to fund the site reservoir study for Spring Creek.