On April 4, Harris County commissioners unanimously initiated the design and construction of a $7 million high water rescue training facility to be funded by the county’s $100 million public safety bond approved by voters in 2022.

The gist: The 9,500-square-foot facility will be used to train emergency personnel for high water rescue situations, said Sean Williams, program manager of the Harris County Sheriff's Office's Flood Rescue Group.
  • An estimated 1,600 emergency personnel annually would be trained at the space, which will be dubbed the HCSO Swift Water Training Facility.
What they’re saying: “With the calls of service over the last eight years, we've seen a high response rate for high water rescues,” Williams said. “It doesn't take a hurricane or tropical storm to produce [a high water] environment.”

Dig deeper: According to the Harris County Engineering Department, the Swift Water Training Facility will:
  • Take about 36 months to build;
  • Include about 7,200 square feet for the training area and 2,500 square feet for classrooms, facility equipment and locker rooms;
  • Have a five-year return on investment; and
  • Be located at the intersection of TC Jester Boulevard and Hugh Road in Houston.
Quote of note: “I think it'll help save lives and in the long run, save money and hopefully we can be training people from around the country at this facility as well,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones said.

What’s next: The design for the facility still needs to be finalized, according to the county’s engineering department.

Did you know? This facility will be the second of its kind in the U.S., according to the county’s engineering department. A similar training center is located in Georgetown.