Senate bill proposes new flood study task force for Harris, Galveston counties

Many roads around Spring Creek and nTomball were impassable during the flooding.

Many roads around Spring Creek and nTomball were impassable during the flooding.

Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston[/caption]

With development  expanding in the Greater Houston area, Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, wants the region to take a closer look at its flood mitigation efforts. In light of costly and deadly weather events over the past couple years, Miles is proposing the creation of a 12-member task force to assess the existing flood control infrastructure in Harris and Galveston counties.

Senate bill 1269 passed the Senate committee on agriculture, water and rural affairs Thursday. If enacted, the bill would create the task force to study necessary improvements for those areas and report back to the state by Dec. 1, 2018. Miles said in a statement Tuesday that the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering would be a lead point of contact for the task force.

“The new flood study is desperately needed,” Miles said during the committee’s hearing Monday. “The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Texas a D on its most recent flood infrastructure ranking, yet Texas is second only to Louisiana in dollars paid out in flood claims.”

During the hearing, Stephen Costello, city of Houston chief resilience officer, told the committee he supports the bill and said the task force would work in collaboration with the Harris County Flood Control District’s efforts. The bill states that the district would act as an advisor to the task force, some of whose members would be appointed by the leaders of Houston and Harris and Galveston counties.

Higher Education Focus University of Houston[/caption]

Jason Smith, UH system vice chancellor for governmental relations, also testified in support of the bill and said Cullen College’s staff were suited to the study.

“The overwhelming majority of development in Houston-Harris County region has occurred over the last 35 years,” Smith said, “and flood mitigation and protection has not caught up with the rapid pace of development during that time.”

He said that UH’s main campus’ third ward location in Houston is an example of an area impacted by development that contributes to flooding.

“The population of Harris County alone has increased by 26 percent [since 2000] and development has contributed greatly to the flood and drain problem, increased severity in flood effects not just for the region but for Texas’ economy as a whole,” Miles said. “The Houston floods of May 2015 and in April 2016 cost us about $2.5 billion [in] economic activity and killed 16 people.”

Katy continues recovery efforts after historic flood This photograph—taken by Caleb Brown with a camera-equipped drone—shows the downtown Katy area of Hwy. 90 and the flooded portions of the city along Avenue D.[/caption]

While the bill does not include a budget item, Miles’ Communications Director Justin Concepcion said the Senate’s budget proposal was passed with a rider for funds that could cover up to $1.5 million in possible costs related to conducting the study.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, recommended Miles add the Texas Department of Transportation to the task force so that members could potentially use State Highway Fund 6 allocations. Committee Chair Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said he supported the bill but was concerned that efforts could be duplicated between the task force and other state or local entities.

“I don’t think I can express enough that we do a really bad job when we’re not working together very well, especially in an area that demands that coordination,” Perry said. “So as you go through that task force, keep that [in mind].”


Here are the coronavirus updates to know today. (Community Impact staff)
Brazoria County reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on May 27

The county reported eight new COVID-19 cases today.

According to METRO, the two employees were a bus controller and a bus repairman, neither of whom had contact with the public. The bus controller has not worked for METRO since May 17. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Two more METRO employees test positive

According to METRO, the two employees were a bus controller and a bus repairman, neither of whom had contact with the public. The bus controller has not worked for METRO since May 17.

Floor decals at H-E-B encourage social distancing. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
May 27 data shows daily increase of 23 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Katy area

The total number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic increased to 988 on May 27.

(Courtesy Pexels)
Fort Bend County Attorney's Office authorized to file amicus brief supporting mail-in ballots amid coronavirus outbreak

The litigation centers over whether the coronavirus pandemic is a legitimate reason for a voter to request a mail-in ballot under the umbrella of "disability."

Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen received a positive coronavirus result May 23, a department spokesperson confirmed May 27.
Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen tests positive for coronavirus

The constable received a positive test result after experiencing a low grade fever and no other symptoms.

Here are the latest coronavirus case count updates from the Bay Area. (Community Impact staff)
MAY 27 ROUNDUP: Bay Area coronavirus updates

Galveston County reported 16 additional coronavirus cases May 27, the biggest single-day jump in the case count total this month.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Superintendent Charles Dupre spoke to the Fort Bend ISD community in a video message May 27. (Courtesy Pexels)
Amid uncertainty about next school year, Fort Bend ISD to offer full-time at-home learning

FBISD's at-home learning option will be for available for families fearful of returning to school because of the coronavirus.

Christ Covenant Church held services exclusively online from March 22-May 17. (Courtesy Christ Covenant Church)
Cy-Fair churches begin to reopen for in-person services with limited capacity

Churches across the Cy-Fair area closed their doors and moved services to alternative formats for several weeks in March, April and May due to the threat of community spread of COVID-19.

(Designed by José Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)
Katy ISD to hire additional department staff for 2020-21 school year

Last year, the administration requested 56 new department staffing units.

Formerly known as Cryo Recovery, the wellness center began offering coronavirus-focused services such as COVID-19 antibody testing in early March. (Courtesy Huemn Optimization   Cryo Recovery)
Huemn Optimization + Cryo Recovery wellness center now offering coronavirus-focused services

Formerly known as Cryo Recovery, the wellness center offers noninvasive services such as cryotherapy, oxygen training and photobiomodulation, or light, therapy.