Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle presents drainage reuse initiative study options at Nov. 2 meeting

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Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle presented several projects his office is considering for future flood mitigation efforts during the North Houston Association Environment Committee’s meeting Nov. 2.

Cagle said his office is investigating and evaluating the feasibility of a drainage reuse initiative, which would enhance floodwater mitigation using a managed aquifer recharge application in Harris County.

A drainage reuse initiative would enable the county to capture, treat and store excess rainfall and/or drainage, to use later as needed in a season of drought. This program would give retention ponds and lakes higher capacities to hold floodwaters while also enabling the county to reuse drainage rather than waste it.

The commissioner’s office is considering four different options to achieve this goal: perched clay, a dry well/shallow injection, an aquifer injection or a deep well injection.

Cagle said the most promising options are perched clay, which works with nature, or the aquifer injection, with which the county would have to meet a technological gap. The office is still studying all options and plans to implement pilot projects for the perched clay and aquifer injection options.

“Our population is going to double in the next 15-20 years. Why plan for what we needed yesterday when we really should be planning for what we’re going to need 50 years from now? Let’s look forward and if we’re going to build it—let’s build it so that it can handle a Harvey. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it big,” Cagle said, referring to the hurricane that hit the region in late August.

Cagle said in order for any one of these options to be put into action, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the state, local municipalities and each individual resident needs to work together.

On the federal level, Cagle proposed that FEMA would eliminate the checkerboard system to allow the buyout of entire streets and/or neighborhoods at a time. Cagle also called for new flood plain planning on the federal level.

Cagle also called for the Army Corps of Engineers to make improvements to the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, create a plan for port protection and provide funding for already approved county projects.

On the state level, Cagle said it should extend the authority of the Harris County Office of Emergency Management beyond county lines to include the entire region. He also said designing lakes to help in flood events, giving counties the power to make ordinances and funding the gaps are also crucial elements of his plan.

On the local level, a bond election would also aid in funding a potential drainage reuse project.

Although nothing is finalized, Cagle said his office will continue studying these options in pursuit of flood mitigation.

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Hannah Zedaker

Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.

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