The Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium released a report Thursday, which consists of its analyses on flood mitigation infrastructure, drainage, buyouts and development regulations in the Greater Houston area.
The consortium began its research shortly after Harvey and consists of research institutions throughout Texas, including Rice University’s SSPEED Center, the Houston Advanced Research Center and Texas State University’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Consortium Project Manager Christof Spieler said.
Here are a few of the many conclusions outlined in the report:
- The consortium found that acquiring and preserving land along bayous and creeks can be just as effective as building flood mitigation infrastructure.
- The consortium found there are several key watersheds in the area, including Cypress Creek and Greens Bayou, where significant flood damage has occurred, but little-to-no mitigation projects have been completed or are being planned.
- The report identifies a third reservoir in Northwest Harris County as a project that could mitigate flooding in the Cypress Creek watershed, however, the location and design of the reservoir is crucial. The consortium found the previously identified location of the third reservoir would only mitigate the effect of future development and would not alleviate existing flooding.
- The consortium found that a lot of the Greater Houston area’s flooding problems are due to localized drainage issues, in addition to bayous or creeks overflowing. According to the report, some of these issues are related to the limitations of local drainage networks, such as storm sewers and roadside ditches. Small-scale strategies tailored for individual neighborhoods and subdivisions could help address this issue.
- The consortium found that although buyouts can be a cost-effective tool, a coordinated rehousing plan should be implemented as well. According to the report, a lot of the Greater Houston area’s more affordable homes are located within the flood plains. Therefore, when buyouts occur and less expensive homes are purchased, there are less affordable housing options for residents in the area. Earthea Nance, associate professor at Texas State University and a member of the consortium, said, buying out homes without planning to add affordable housing leaves people without many options.
- The consortium found regulatory systems in the Greater Houston area to be overly complicated because of the number of jurisdictions overseeing different regulation aspects. For example, according to the report, on one piece of property, it is possible that detention could be regulated by one entity, while flood plain management and building codes are regulated by a different entity.