A project decades in the making will begin later this year to reduce the effects of flooding along the Greens Bayou watershed in northern Harris County.

"The history of flooding on Greens Bayou goes back to the 1920s and '30s, and maybe even earlier," said Jill Boullion, executive director of the Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition. "The first study on the bayou was authorized by the federal government in 1948, so this project has its genesis in that 1948 study."

The Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition began an advocacy effort in 2009 to secure funding for the project, which was going nowhere at the time, Boullion said. Members of the coalition traveled to Galveston, Dallas and Washington D.C. to meet with officials from the Army Corp of Engineers to discuss the project, which received $8 million in start-up funding in the federal 2015 fiscal year budget for the Corp Civil Works program.

The $55 million project includes the construction of a 108-acre detention basin and 3.7 miles of channel improvements, which stretch from Cutten Road to Veteran's Memorial Drive. The basin itself will be situated at Antoine and West Greens Road, near Beltway 8 in northern Harris County. Harris County purchased the property for the project in 1997, Boullion said.

"A detention basin is designed to hold water for a specific amount of time so all the water coming into the bayou from a severe rain event doesn't go into the bayou at the same time," Boullion said. "It holds the water and releases it at a slower pace."

In addition to the federal project, two locally funded detention basin projects are expected to begin this year as a part of the Greens Bayou Mid-Reach Flood Damage Reduction Plan, which works to make flood control improvements in the watershed.

"You have a lot of really vital infrastructure east of that project, "Boullion said. "You have the Houston National Cemetery, Intercontinental Airport, the Greenspoint District and Beltway 8 and I-45. Flooding impacts emergency services and the ability of for people to commute to and from places quickly."

Construction will begin on the project after the Army Corp of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District sign an agreement by late August. Work is expected to take about four to five years to complete the basin and improvements.

"This project demonstrates what can be accomplished when community volunteers, government stakeholders and concerned citizens focus their combined efforts on a worthy endeavor," said Mike Castro, chair of the coalition's public policy committee and coalition board member. "This project will have a demonstrable positive impact on the quality of life for residents who live within the Greens Bayou watershed."

Greens Bayou runs from Cy-Fair on east through Harris County and down to the Houston Ship Channel. For more information, visit www.greensbayou.org.