By George Slaughter
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a study focusing on reducing flood risks along Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries, and is seeking public input.
Andrew Weber, project manager of the Galveston District of the Corps of Engineers, gave a presentation describing the study and how it was being developed. He said the goal of the study is to improve the effectiveness of both the Addicks and Barker projects, while reducing the upstream and downstream flood risks along Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries.
The need to identify options for reducing flood risks has become more urgent as Southeast Texas continues to grow and develop. Weber said the Addicks Reservoir had an elevation of 109.1 inches during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He said the Barker Reservoir had an elevation of 101.6 inches. These were the highest elevations recorded, but they were part of a trend. Of the five examples of Addicks Reservoir flood elevation Weber cited, four of them happened after 2000.
Meanwhile, three of the five examples of Barker Reservoir flood elevation happened after 2000.
Weber said the Corps may consider numerous alternatives as it performs the study. Such alternatives can be structural solutions, such as auxiliary spillway improvements, bypass channels, channel improvements, levees, operational changes, stormwater detention or diversion, or perhaps a new reservoir.
Alternatives can also include non-structural solutions, such as flood proofing, flood warning systems, and property acquisition.
Weber said the finished study must present no unmitigated adverse impacts, address the issue of limited open land for flood control purposes, and address the historical opposition to environmental impacts on Buffalo Bayou.
Tuesday’s public scoping meeting was the first of a series and was held at Kingsland Baptist Church, 20555 Kingsland Blvd.
Weber said that the public scoping phase is provided by law to ensure that the public can give its input. Upcoming meetings are scheduled as follows:
- May 2, at St. John Vianney Catholic Activity Center, 625 Nottingham Oaks Trail, Houston
- May 7, at Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd., Houston
- May 8, at Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium, University of Houston-Downtown, 1 Main St.
- May 9, at Cypress Ridge High School Ninth Grade Cafeteria, 7900 N. Eldridge Pkwy., Houston
All meetings are set for 5-8 p.m. except for the May 9 meeting, which is set for 6-9 p.m. Weber gives a 30-minute presentation giving an overview of the study, and staff are situated on both the left and right sides of the room to answer questions. Weber gives his presentation at three different times so people can come and go as desired.
For those unable to attend a meeting, the Corps welcomes public feedback by e-mail at BBTRS@usace.army.mil or by U.S. Mail to US. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: RPEC, Environmental Branch, P.O. Box 1229, Gavleston, TX 77553-1229. Mail must be postmarked by May 31.
The Corps will take the public input and evaluate possible alternatives. It expects to submit a draft report for public review in June 2020. For more information, visit the Corps web site at https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/Buffalo-Bayou-and-Tributaries-Resiliency-Study/.