The projects—which involve making drainage improvements on Wall Street and several adjacent streets and building an earthen barrier around a portion of the Jersey Meadow Golf Course—have been part of the city's plans since officials completed a Long Term Flood Recovery Study in 2017. They were both initially approved for FEMA grants in 2018 but got tied up in a historical preservation review.
In a Nov. 30 press release, U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, said she reached out to FEMA on the city's behalf and was successfully able to get things moving. In an Oct. 19 letter to FEMA, Fletcher said the historical preservation review would delay the groundbreaking on the project by four to six months, citing conversations her office had with the city. In a response to Fletcher, FEMA said it had determined that no historic properties would be affected and additional survey work was not required.
“After an active hurricane season this year, it is clear that we cannot wait to implement projects that will help mitigate flooding in our community,” Fletcher said in a Nov. 30 statement. “I was glad to work with FEMA and the city of Jersey Village to ensure the federal funding for this project can be allocated as quickly as possible, and I will continue to partner with local and federal stakeholders to strengthen our region’s resiliency.”
The golf course barrier—or berm—will be designed to hold roughly 49.7 million gallons of stormwater. Once completed, the berm is expected to be able to contain stormwater from every storm frequency outside of the 500-year event, which is determined to have a 0.2% change of occurring in any given year.
The drainage improvements involve increasing the number of inlets and the storm sewer pipe sizes along several flood-prone streets adjacent to the golf course, including Wall, Crawford, Carlsbad and Tahoe streets as well as Capri Drive. When combined, the two projects will reduce damages from a 100-year storm by $757,580, according to the Jersey Village study.
“We would like to thank Congresswoman Fletcher for her great support in moving this project forward," Jersey Village Mayor Andrew Mitcham said in a statement. "Her assistance has helped to cut through red tape and move this large flood mitigation product forward."
With the $4.2 million grant secured, the city will fund the remaining $1.7 million of the $5.9 million project. City Manager Austin Bleess said the city has not received formal notification from FEMA yet, but it is ready to go out for bids as soon as it gets the official go-ahead.
Meanwhile, the Harris County Flood Control District announced the start of construction Nov. 30 on another flood mitigation project Jersey Village officials have been closely tracking: the widening of White Oak Bayou between FM 1960 and Hollister Street.
The $124 million project is a partnership between the HCFCD and the Army Corps of Engineers. The 8-mile segment from FM 1960 to Hollister Street is the first of two pieces. The second piece—from Hollister Street to west of Cole Creek—is in development.
Harris County commissioners approved their share $20.5 million contract in September for the first piece, which is estimated to be complete by the end of 2021. Work includes widening the bayou, and replacing and modifying storm pipes and outfall structures, according to HCFCD information.
Although Jersey Village city officials had little power to move the White Oak Bayou project forward, they still recognized the importance of the project in their 2017 flood study, often advocating for funding at the county and federal level. Once completed, the HCFCD estimated the water level in the bayou during a 100-year storm will be between 0.3 inches and 1.8 inches lower in the Jersey Village area.
"This is an exciting project for the city of Jersey Village,“ Mitcham said in a statement. “It is the product of many years of hard work between the city, county and federal government to increase our flood protection capacity in our city. We are excited for this project to break ground and anxiously await the completion if it."