The packed room and continual influx of Harris County residents during Thursday’s Addicks Reservoir watershed community meeting hosted by the Harris County Flood Control District was a good sign for Houston’s needed drainage improvements, according to state Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy.
“I think it shows how many people in our area are interested in what is going in their community and will pay attention if you just bring them the information,” Schofield said.
Thursday’s meeting was one of 23 meetings the HCFCD is hosting in each of the county’s watersheds over the next two months. The meetings aim to seek input from residents to help flood control officials finalize a list of drainage improvement projects for the $2.5 billion bond referendum voters will decide on Aug. 25. Officials said they hope to have a finalized list of projects by Aug. 1.
Proposed preliminary projects
Of the list of preliminary projects included in the Addicks Reservoir watershed, seven proposed projects totaling $126 million would be funded solely with local money if the bond referendum is passed, according to HCFCD documents. Eight more proposed partnership projects totaling $192.5 million would be funded through the HCFCD and the federal government, through either the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development, Zeve said.
“We plan on applying for either a FEMA hazard mitigation grant…and if the grant is successful we will use bond money for the local match,” Zeve said of the partnership projects.
Some of the proposed projects include proposals to help fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to potentially remove accumulated silt in the Addicks Reservoir, extending outfalls that lead into detention basins, building a regional detention facility in Cypress Creek to address overflow and de-silting all 17 channels in the watershed back to their original conveyance capacity. The de-silting includes construction on Horsepen Creek, which is already in the works.
Zeve said the district expects de-silting of Horsepen Creek to be finished in about six more months. Bear Creek could take a year to 18 months, and Langham Creek will take at least a year, he said.
Zeve said he understand residents would like de-silting of the channels to be a faster process, but insists it cannot be expedited.
“These guys have to drive a track hoe out to the edge of the bayou, reach down, scoop it [silt and debris]up and put it into a dump truck, over and over and over again, for hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of material,” Zeve said. “It just takes time.”
Schofield said the most important project that could directly benefit Katy and Cy-Fair residents is the creation of a third reservoir, though the reservoir is not on the proposed list of projects. Zeve said a $1.5 million proposed project to fund a study required by the Corps for any modification to the Addicks and Barker reservoir is the first step to accomplishing a third reservoir.
Aside from the third reservoir, Schofield said he thinks the most important projects for Katy included in the proposed list are the de-silting of the 17 channels.
“Much of the flooding is really caused because the little waterways clog up and water never gets to where it’s going,” Schofield said.
Katy resident Doyle Boutwell said he agreed with Schofield on the importance of cleaning up the channels. Boutwell said he lives just north of Mayde Creek, which is an infamous spot for flooding in the county.
“It’s not the main reservoir that is the problem [and]it is not the capacity of the reservoir, it’s the things leading into the reservoir,” Boutwell said. “Mayde Creek at Greenhouse is less the capacity that it was before Harvey. They did some cleanout after Harvey, but not enough to make it flow.”
While residents like Boutwell argue the de-silting channels projects need to happen sooner rather than later, Schofield, HCFCD officials and residents all agree being active and attending community meetings the district has scheduled are critical to improving flooding in the Greater Houston area.
“They [residents]need to get involved and active,” Boutwell said. “Politics is politics. The more people that demand something the quicker it gets done. Enough noise is made, action happens.”
The Barker Reservoir watershed meeting has not been scheduled yet. Harris County and Katy residents who missed the meeting can still submit feedback online by going to the Harris County Flood Control District website.