AP NEWS

Corps seeks flood-mitigation comments from community

May 9, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met Katy-area residents April 30 to collect feedback on a federal study to reduce the flooding risks along the Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries.

“We’re listening and will take your comments into consideration,” said Edmond J. Russo Jr., USACE deputy district engineer, programs and project management.

The USACE project manager for the Buffalo Bayou & Tributaries Resiliency Study is Andrew Weber, who has worked as a civil engineer since 2009 and whose other projects include the Addicks and Barker Dams Safety Modification Project and the Coastal Texas Study.

The $6 million Buffalo Bayou study started in October 2018 and is scheduled to last three years until October 2021, he said. The Harris County Flood Control District is a study partner.

As he presented slides and updated the study for an audience of approximately 150 people at Kingsland Baptist Church, Weber said, “We’re still very early in the process and everything you see is subject to your comments.”

Weber said three primary problem areas have been identified so far for the study: flooding upstream and downstream of the reservoirs and performance and risk issues related to flow around and over uncontrolled spillways.

The project goal is to improve the effectiveness of the Barker and Addicks reservoirs and to reduce upstream and downstream flood risks. Some alternatives could increase storage capacity. Others could improve the efficiency of the stormwater flow, he said.

Nothing is set in stone, according to Weber, who said next will be a transition to the evaluation and analysis phase where alternatives will be evaluated and compared. A tentatively selected plan is to be ready by next summer for further public review and comment.

“The plan that maximizes the benefits becomes the benchmark for federal funding,” said Weber. The final plan is due by October 2021. It’s up to Congress to authorize the project and appropriate funds, he said.

Visit https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/Buffalo-Bayou-and-Tributaries-Resiliency-Study/ to see what options are being discussed. This link also lists remaining dates and sites for Corps scheduled meetings to collect public comment throughout the Houston area.

“Please consider is there anything the Corps has missed,” Weber said. “In your knowledge is there anything the Corps needs to take under consideration? Is there anything you know that can improve how we develop these plans and, maybe, even is there something the Corps has right?”

Comments will be accepted for a 30-day period that started April 29. Comments can be emailed to BBTRS@usace.army.mil or mailed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: RPEC, Environmental Branch, P.O.Box 1229 Galveston, Texas 77553-1229. Mail must be postmarked by May 31, 2019, said Russo.

Katy resident Clet Landry of Pine Forest subdivision, which experienced flooding after Hurricane Harvey, was among those attending the April 30 meeting. He said he had distributed information about that night’s meeting to other residents and saw many of his neighbors there, too. His goal is to further share the Corps information and get the word out about the study.

Residents of Cinco Ranch and Fairways at Kelliwood also were among attendees.

The Fairways at Kelliwood resident said, “I think what they’re saying seems pretty vague. It seems they’re just getting started and there’s not a lot to look at.”

Hurricane Harvey left 18 inches of water in his house.

“Fifty-four inches in four days — there’s not an answer for everything,” he said.

The Cinco Ranch resident, who said he had 19 to 20 inches in his house after Harvey, raised a concern about the study’s duration and that a final report wouldn’t be available until 2021.

But Lt. Col. Mark T.Williford, USACE chief of public affairs, noted that it was Harvey that brought the different levels of government agencies as well as community groups together to work to reduce flooding risks.

Said Weber, “Flood-risk management is a shared effort across all levels of government.”

karen.zurawski@chron.com