Gov. Greg Abbott approves $5 million for Kingwood-area flood projects

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On March 15, Gov. Greg Abbott announced authorization of about $5 million in initial funding for flood control projects to support the Kingwood area.

Abbott announced that $3 million in funding has been preapproved to cover engineering and permitting costs of dredging the San Jacinto River basin, according to a press release. The state also preauthorized funding for a $2 million regional study that will evaluate ways to prevent future flooding along the San Jacinto River.

The study is a collaboration between the Harris County Flood Control District, San Jacinto River Authority and Montgomery County that will identify projects to reduce the risk of flooding in the community, HCFCD spokesperson Robert Lazaro said.

To receive the funding, HCFCD still needs to submit a final application for approval by the Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the application has already been preapproved by both agencies, said Matt Hirsch, spokesperson for the governor’s office.

HCFCD officials said the study could take 12-18 months to complete, while the $3 million in funding for dredging will only cover the engineering and design of the project, which could cost tens of millions of dollars in total.

The $5 million in funding comes from the state’s Hazard Mitigation Fund, which is collected from FEMA by the state for redistribution to affected cities and counties, Hirsch said.

“This hazard mitigation money; they are estimating it to be just over $1 billion,” Lazaro said. “This money will be used in Harris County and all over the impacted region.”

The governor’s office is also directing several state agencies to assist in flood control efforts. Abbott requested the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigate illegal sand mining operations along the San Jacinto River. Sand mining is a practice of excavating land to collect and sell sand as a component for building materials such as concrete for road construction, concrete blocks and bricks.

Abbott is also directing SJRA to identify what can be done to prevent flooding along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.

“Major rainfall events like Harvey are regional problems, and any meaningful solution will involve regional partnerships that cross political and jurisdictional boundaries,” SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said.

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