DRAIN our Streets
We can prioritize City drainage dollars to improve drainage on the roads in front of our homes and businesses. This will fill in the gaps left from improvements along to actual flooding.
A fresh approach to drainage is what we need. What we have been (or haven’t) been doing isn’t working. Marvin brings fresh eyes, and new solutions to the drainage problems Houston is facing.
Use Build Houston Forward funds to speed up downstream drainage improvements.
In 2010, Houstonians approved the Rebuild Houston program (now Build Houston Forward) to provide a dedicated fund for drainage. From 2012-2017, that fund collected over $1.56 Billion, a half billion more than needed for these projects. These funds were spent on street improvements, like sewer inlets, potholes, and ditches, but streets won’t drain if the bayous are backed up. City leaders should have dedicated those funds to the downstream projects before commencing on upstream ones.
The present deepening of Brays, Green, White Oak, and Buffalo Bayous that would have prevented the damage that Harvey caused costs $1.02 billion, 2/3 of the funds collected. This is not hindsight; Brays Bayou had flooded during Allison and other rain events. That’s why we voters approved these funds. We need city leaders with the right priorities.
Fill the gaps around Federal/State/County projects.
Worst damage from Harvey flooding occurred along the Brays, Buffalo, and San Jacinto watersheds, with considerable damage along Greens, Clear Creek, and Addicks watersheds. Federal and county dollars already implemented improvements in all but the Cypress and San Jacinto watersheds, though there is significant discussion about creating a third reservoir to aid the Cypress area. Even after these detention and conveyance projects are complete, there will still be work to do getting our streets to properly drain into these improved water passageways. For example, once detention basins upstream and downstream of Greenspoint are completed, the Union Pacific Railroad bridge at the Hardy Toll Road will still need to be lengthened/widened to allow more water to pass underneath. That’s a place where the City can concentrate its drainage spending.
Inform and alert all stakeholders about flooding.
We can know and predict how our region takes on water. Data is available from past events, insurance claims, FEMA individual assistance claims, calls for assistance, and damage surveys. Combined with building slab elevations, we can create and regularly update more detailed flood maps which are useful for understanding both ordinary rain events as well as the 100-year and 500-year floods. Those maps then need to be shared broadly with residents and developers so that they may plan accordingly. The City’s building ordinances also need to be revised accordingly. Lastly, this data should underlay a flood alert system that pushes notices out in real time to residents threatened by impending rainfall. Since 1997, Rice University’s SSPEED Center has operated a flood alert system on Brays Bayou through the Texas Medical Center. For an estimated $5-$10 million—less than the cost of a single detention basin—that alert system could be expanded to other bayous, especially those surrounded by dense housing.
Get in Touch
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