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Harris County Flood control districts talks about proposed projects for Luce Bayou

July 24, 2018

With early voting right around the corner — the polls open Aug. 8 for the county’s upcoming $2.5 billion bond — the Harris County Flood Control District highlighted flood control projects in the Luce Bayou watershed on Monday at the May Community Center in Huffman.

Only three local projects and one storm repair project from the Luce Bayou watershed have been put on the list for projects to be considered for funding by the multi-billion dollar bond.

Luce Bayou is located in the far northeast corner of Harris County and drains into the east fork for the San Jacinto River, the flood district’s website states. The watershed extends through Liberty County and into San Jacinto County with its headwaters located in the Sam Houston National Forest.

“Every single channel in Harris County at one time or another has experienced flooding,” HCFCD Environmental Chief Glenn Laird said. “It’s just a matter of where the storms go and how severe they are.”

Local projects for Luce Bayou are:

Right of way acquisition, design and construction of general drainage improvements in the Luce Bayou watershed to investigate flooding problems and evaluate potential solutions to flooding problems to reduce the risk of flooding in the watershed.

Cost: $10 million

Luce Bayou floodplain right of way acquisition to preserve channel conveyance and/or to restore natural floodplains in areas subject to frequent flooding.

Cost: $10 million

Planning, right of way acquisition, design and construction of general drainage improvements in the Luce Bayou watershed to investigate flooding problems and evaluate potential solutions to flooding problems to reduce risk of flooding in the watershed.

Cost: $500,000

“We set the money aside because we don’t know exactly where the major problems are,” Laid said. “First part of what that money is going to go for is to do a study to determine where the greatest needs are and begin buying right away and actually doing work on it.”

Laird said if the bond election passes then the county has to decide on what flood mitigation projects to begin.

“I can’t say exactly but probably the studies will not begin until sometime late this year because what’s going to happen is if (the bond) passes then a decision has got to be made by the Harris County Budget Office on how much of the $2.5 billion in bonds will be sold at the beginning and when that sale will occur. Then we will have money for the first batch of studies and projects at that point,” Laird said.

HCFCD has had these meetings all over the county to get community input on current proposed projects and add more projects to the list.

Rob Lazaro, HCFCD communication officer said their communication department meets with their engineering department on a weekly basis to determine what projects can be done.

“We meet with our engineers as well as area municipalities to look at the whole drainage system as a whole and what makes sense,” Lazaro said. “Depending on what stage of the project life cycle it’s in, if we’ve studied it before or if we have a general understanding of what the cost might be … if we’re just starting the study process from scratch, it will be a very rough estimate.”

Residents can submit projects ideas to the HCFCD website.

Projects suggested for Luce Bayou will only be implemented within Harris County.

HCFCD Director of Operations Matt Zeve said the flood district will coordinate with the engineering department in Liberty County to look at Luce Bayou as a whole. He said there wasn’t much commentary about Luce Bayou before since it’s a lightly populated area.

Zeve said after Hurricane Harvey surrounding counties realize drainage is a regional issue and work together to come up with a solution.

“We want to look at the whole watershed. We don’t want to just look at what’s in Harris County because there’s so much area from Liberty County that comes into Harris County,” Zeve said. “We have a relationship a with Liberty County, we’ll set up a coordination meeting and work with them to address drainage issues in Harris County and work with them on drainage issues in Liberty County.”

The deadline to submit project ideas to the Harris County Flood Control Disterict is August 3.

kaila.contreras@chron.com

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