The Harris County Flood Control District hosted a virtual community engagement meeting for the Kingwood Diversion Ditch Flood Risk Reduction Project on March 6.

How we got here

The HCFCD completed a comprehensive Kingwood Drainage Analysis Study in 2020, with the goal of evaluating the network of bayous and channels that drain in the Kingwood area, and to identify potential projects that could reduce the risk of structural flooding and help the Kingwood area's bayous and channels to accommodate the flow of 100-year rainfall events. In the Kingwood area, a 100-year rainfall event as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Atlas 14 data, is approximately 17.1 inches of rainfall in 24 hours.

Upon completion, the study recommends the following projects move forward:About the project

In the preliminary engineering stage, the Kingwood Diversion Ditch Flood Risk Reduction Project aims to reduce the risk of structural flooding associated with the Bens Branch Channel.

While the project team is evaluating three project alternatives, HCFCD officials said Project Alternative 3 is the recommended option and would entail:
  • Replacing the Kingwood Drive, Walnut Lane and Deer Ridge Estates Boulevard bridges as well as the Greenbelt Trails pedestrian bridge
  • Widening the Kingwood Diversion Ditch to a proposed width of 10-80 feet at the bottom of the channel and 150-195 feet at the top of the channel
  • Incorporating natural stable channel design features—design components intended to restore a stream to mimic natural conditions—in certain sections with pools and riffles, or shallower sections that reduce the conveyance velocity in the channel
  • Adding a new outfall, or discharge point, of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch to the West Fork of the San Jacinto River
Why it matters

According to the HCFCD, Project Alternative 3 would remove approximately 69 structures and 223 acres from the 100-year flood plain. The proposed project is also expected to increase habitat, improve erosion resistance and improve filtration of suspended solids due to the natural stable channel design features.

Quote of note

"Flood mitigation projects are a high priority in Precinct 3. That's why flood risk reduction projects like these are important and must be seen to completion," Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said during the meeting. "By working together, the Kingwood Diversion Ditch project will result in the reduction of the 100-year area of inundation, which means preventing more homes from flood damage, and that's on the forefront of our priorities: keeping Kingwood and all of our Precinct 3 communities safe through efficient and innovative infrastructure improvements. But we can't do it without your input."

Funding the project

While the construction cost of Project Alternative 3 is $54.5 million—$3 million more than Project Alternative 1—HCFCD officials said it was selected as the recommended option as the maintenance cost is nearly 36% less than that of Project Alternative 1. Project Alternative 2 was deemed the least viable option as it had the least benefit to structures compared to Project Alternatives 1 and 3.

HCFCD officials said the project's design is being funded with a $1.9 million allocation from the 2018 HCFCD bond program, as well as a $1.6 million grant from community-directed federal funding through the Environmental Protection Agency. The grant requires a $500,000 local cost share and must be used for design only.

Officials noted there is no funding allocated for construction of the project, and that funding options will be identified after costs are refined and finalized during the design stage.

What's next

HCFCD officials said once community input has been received, the final preliminary engineering report will be transmitted to the Harris County Commissioners Court for approval. If approved, the project will move into the final design phase, and an additional community engagement meeting will be held. Once funding is secured for construction, construction can begin on the project.

Get involved

Those who were unable to attend the live meeting can view a recorded version of the meeting on the HCFCD's website and YouTube channel.

For questions, residents are encouraged to contact the HCFCD at 346-286-4000, or fill out the comment form online by clicking here. The comment period for this project will close on March 20.