Proposals emerge to manage flooding along Cypress Creek and Addicks Reservoir

Officials with the Harris County Flood Control District revealed several methods to deal with flooding in the Cypress Creek and Addicks Reservoir watersheds at a Nov. 7 public meeting based on studies that have taken place over the past year.

While floods in these watersheds do not occur often under current conditions, HCFCD is looking for ways to prepare for future development in west Harris County, which is expected to make flooding more of an issue. Census data for this particular segment of west Harris County projects population to increase from 300,000 to 540,000 over the next 50 years.

"Right now, Cypress Creek overflow is occurring in areas that are predominately undeveloped or partially developed," said Dena Green, study manager in HCFCD's engineering and construction division. "However, we've seen a lot of information that indicates west Harris County will undergo a rapid increase in population. If that occurs, we think there are going to be some pretty dramatic land use changes."

Cypress Creek overflow—when water flows southward out of Cypress Creek Watershed into the Addicks Reservoir Watershed—happens approximately every eight to 10 years, Green said. During especially heavy rains, overflow will continue into the tributary system and ultimately drain into the Addicks reservoir.

"Although the Addicks Reservoir has a large storage capacity, we need to be cognizant of its limit and rate of discharge," Green said. "If too much [water] is released, you have flooding downstream on Buffalo Bayou. If you don't release enough, you're going to impact the property upstream."

The ongoing study involves measuring the ability of three different land types to absorb rainwater and analyze how future development could impact water infiltration into the soil. Two monitors measuring runoff and absorption were placed in areas identified as "highly developed," "open space" and "prairie." The overall study area encompasses 400 square miles, from east Waller County down to and including the Addicks Reservoir.

"There are some theories that the native prairie grass helps increase the infiltration capacity of the soil," Green said. "They help absorb water as rainfall and runoff goes across the land. That helps reduce the overall volume of water draining into the tributaries."

HCFCD has been monitoring the six sites for about a year and expects to have a preliminary report in December. Green said HCFCD will continue to monitor the sites for another five years as development continues.

In the meantime, HCFCD officials have proposed several projects that would help mitigate overflow and protect populations from increased flooding. Alan Potok, director of HCFCD's engineering and construction division, said the objective was to come up with something that was both financially feasible and could be implemented in a timely fashion.

A steering committee with members representing the City of Houston, Waller County, Harris County precincts 3 and 4 and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among other entities, are helping guide the process. The most appealing concept so far involves three steps.

First, a berm—or raised barrier—would be created between Cypress Creek and Addicks watersheds to collect water and provide relief for the overflow area. Second, overflow conveyance mechanisms would be developed to help convey water downstream to existing channels such as Bear Creek. Third, a 4,000-to-8,000-acre upstream storage facility would be created in Waller County to store between 11,000 and 26,000 acre-feet of water. The study also recommends setting aside 3,500 acres for conservation purposes.

"If we combine the holding basin upstream in Waller County and collect and convey the rest of [the overflow] down Bear Creek, we reduce the overflow actually occurring and control the flow rate into the reservoir," Potok said.

The proposed projects would cost an estimated $325 million for land acquisition, construction and contacted professional services. It would likely be completed over an extended period of time to avoid having to pay the entire cost at once. Potok suggested charging impact fees to developers looking to build in the floodplain as one way to raise revenue to help fund projects.

The next step for HCFCD is to continue to develop these concepts into a draft that can be presented to the Texas Water Development Board and Harris County Commissioners Court for approval. The draft is expected to be ready by early spring 2014. A third public meeting will take place after the draft is composed, but before it is finalized and submitted to TWDB.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


MOST RECENT

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

Some camps have been canceled, but others are implementing new safety precautions to cope with the coronavirus. (Designed by Elyssa Turner/Community Impact Newspaper)
See how Cy-Fair, Houston area summer camps are adapting to the coronavirus

Some camps have been canceled, but others are implementing new safety precautions to cope with the coronavirus.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

Which Wich serves sandwiches, salads and more. (Courtesy Which Wich)
Which Wich sandwich shop opening June 1 in Cypress

The sandwich shop is opening Monday at Fairfield Town Center.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.

Cypress Assistance Ministries has been providing emergency food to families in need at its food pantry. (Courtesy Cypress Assistance Ministries)
2 Cy-Fair nonprofits selected to distribute coronavirus relief funds

About $8.2 million raised from private donations was distributed to 65 nonprofits on May 28.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is set to resume Oct. 3 with safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival announces tentative modifications for 2020 season

In a May 28 statement, General Manager Joseph Bailey said new safety measures are in the works to comply with governmental recommendations, and an operating plan is expected to be reviewed with officials in June.

The Loaded Baked Potato ($8.95 ): Everything but the kitchen sink is added into this baked potato. (Courtesy 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering)
2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering adds permanent drive-thru to weather pandemic

Co-owner Chris Clarabut catered his brother-in-law’s wedding four years ago, not knowing it would be the start of 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering, he said.

The death total in Harris County now stands at 221. With 11,770 cases confirmed in the county, the death rate stands at 1.9%. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1 new death confirmed May 28, 8 deaths over past 7 days

By comparison, 23 deaths were confirmed between May 16-22, and 39 deaths were confirmed between May 9-15.

Klein Oak High School graduating senior Christopher Jones II received a variety of gift items from community member Rachael. (Courtesy Allanda Nichols)
Greater Houston-area graduating seniors celebrated through online community

Seniors of the graduating Class of 2020 are being celebrated with gifts and well-wishes through organized Facebook groups and "adopt-a-senior" programs created by Greater Houston-area community members.

Health Care Snapshot 2020: Harris County ranked among top 25 counties for length of life

In terms of county health in 2020, Harris County ranked among the top 25 on length of life.

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 buildings beginning June 1. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College System discusses reopening plan for June 1

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 of its buildings June 1, prioritizing health science buildings.