Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday set Aug. 25 as the date for a $2.5 billion bond election to fund flood mitigation projects through the Harris County Flood Control District, and residents in the Cypress Creek Watershed will get a chance to learn more about their stake in the bond on Friday.
In the weeks leading up to the election, HCFCD plans to hold a public meeting in each of the county’s 23 watersheds. According to an HCFCD press release, the meetings will provide an opportunity for HCFCD to describe projects that could be candidates for funding if the bond program is approved by voters. The meetings also provide a chance for residents to give input into projects they think are needed and flooding issues they want to see addressed.
The events were declared special meetings of Commissioners Court, and members of Commissioners Court are able to attend and participate in the meetings, according to HCFCD.
The community engagement meeting for Cypress Creek will be 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 15, at Raveneaux Country Club, 9415 Cypresswood Drive, Spring.
Among the potential projects identified in the Cypress Creek watershed are $25 million for stormwater detention basins in large buyout areas and $100 million for right-of-way acquisitions. Buyouts are also identified at several points along Cypress Creek. A complete list of proposed projects within the Cypress Creek Watershed can be seen here.
A neighborhood organization that formed after Hurricane Harvey, Cypress Creek Association-Stop the Flooding, met June 5 to discuss some of the needs in the watershed.
“We don’t know what’s wrong out here, because we’ve never really studied it and there is no way to completely eliminate flooding in Houston,” said Paul Eschenfelder, a member and spokesperson for the group. “We’re going to flood. We get a lot of rain, we have a flat topography, and what we need to do is control it so that it doesn’t ruin our lives. We want every one of you to be energized and talk to your family members, friends, and say there are things we can do, we can move forward, make the politicians work for us.”
Speakers at the June 5 event included Sharon Tirpak, deputy chief of the project management branch for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. She said a previous study on Cypress Creek was done more than 30 years ago and is no longer useful, given the changes and development that have occurred since then, so new studies will be needed to assess the region, she said. Corps projects are funded by Congress, and studies generally take about three years and cost $3 million, she said.
HCFCD Chief Operations Officer Matthew Zeve said he has received dozens of emails from residents in the Cypress Creek Watershed voicing their opinions, including the suggestion that $100 million will not be sufficient for right-of-way acquisitions along the creek.
“It sounds like based on community input that number may increase,” he said. “We can’t stop flooding, but we can reduce the risk of flooding for as many Harris County residents as possible.”
A Spring Creek Watershed meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. June 27 at Big Stone Lodge, 709 Riley Fuzzel Road, Spring.