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Army Corps, Harris County to study reservoirs

October 12, 2018

The Harris County Flood Control District joined its federal partner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in signing a Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (FCSA) for a comprehensive study of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs and surrounding watersheds. The $6 million study will include Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries and Corps will serve as the lead agency.

The signing of the agreement marks the beginning of a three-year study period in which the Corps, with input from the flood control district, will evaluate and recommend projects and operational changes to improve the effectiveness of the reservoirs in reducing flood risks upstream and downstream. The public will be engaged at intervals throughout the study. Over the next year, the study team will focus on identifying and evaluating alternatives, and developing a recommended plan for more detailed analysis.

Although the reservoirs are owned, operated and maintained by the Corps, the flood control district is responsible for other flood control infrastructure throughout Harris County, including tributaries upstream and receiving channels downstream of the reservoirs. The study will provide critical information for the the Corps, flood control district and the public to help identify and minimize flood risks upstream and downstream of the reservoirs.

“The flood control district is excited to launch this long-awaited study and to continue its successful partnership with USACE under this agreement,” said Russ Poppe, executive director of the flood control district. “With the agreement signed as well as the team and funding in place, we are poised to move forward with the study and toward implementation.”

The agreement for the $6 million, three-year study was approved by Harris County Commissioners Court on Oct. 9. Under the provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018), which was signed into law on Feb. 9, the study will be fully funded by the federal government. The agreement therefore does not commit local funds to the study, but does formally recognize the flood control district as a working partner. BBA 2018 also provides that projects identified by the study may be eligible for construction funding provided by the Act.

“We are very excited to sign the FCSA with the HCFCD for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander, Galveston District Corps of Engineers. “While this study will be at full federal expense, we welcome partnering with the Harris County Flood Control District to enhance the study and ensure our alternatives proposed have the full participation and involvement of the district as the non-federal sponsor and other federal, state, county and local governmental and non-governmental partners.”

The Addicks and Barker reservoirs were built in the 1940s as part of a federal project to reduce flooding risks along Buffalo Bayou, which runs west to east through downtown Houston. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of Addicks Dam in 1948 and Barker Dam in 1945. The Corps owns, operates and maintains the reservoirs, including leases or permits for some compatible recreational uses within the basins. Operation of the outlet facilities controls discharges from the reservoirs into Buffalo Bayou. Environmentally-sensitive areas and a wide range of wildlife habitats exist within the reservoir boundaries and along the upper tributary reaches that extend into the Katy Prairie.

To learn more about the flood control district, visit www.hcfcd.org or follow it on Twitter @HCFCD for all the latest #HCFCDnews.

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