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County officials announce first flood mitigation projects in northwest Harris County

September 22, 2018

Flood mitigation projects in northwest Harris County are moving forward after voters approved a $2.5 billion bond to address drainage in August, county and federal officials say.

At a forum hosted by the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, county officials said the first steps will be to purchase buildings and homes affected by Hurricane Harvey as well as conducting studies before starting on any construction projects.

“All these projects are designed to help people and so, we want to start first by helping the most people that we can,” said Matt Zeve, director of operations for the Harris Flood Control District.

According to the flood control district, the county currently expects to purchase 450 properties along Cypress Creek in precincts 3 and 4, which would cost more than $376 million.

Along Little Cypress Creek, the county would seek to purchase 30 properties for $18.8 million while Willow Creek would have 10 properties purchased for $4.2 million and Spring Creek would invest $600,000 for an unspecified number of properties.

“We want to move on those home buyouts as quickly as we can because those people who have volunteered to be bought out have been waiting for over a year. We want to buy property so that people don’t make the same mistake,” Zeve said.

One of the largest bond items is $100 million that is expected to be used to fund projects along Cypress Creek for dredging and channel conveyance.

The funds will also be used to update a 2003 study focusing on major tributaries in the county.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, whose home flooded during Harvey, said flood mitigation projects are necessary as floods in recent years have worsened.

“We need to do it while the memory of Harvey is still with us,” he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be working on dredging the San Jacinto River to remove silt and debris as well as conduct a study of Buffalo Bayou and county tributaries, which may result in the construction of a third reservoir.

“(Congress) gives us the authority to go study and then the additional authority to construct risk management projects,” said Andrew Weber, a geotechnical engineer with the corps.

The flood bond is expected to fund drainage projects for a decade. While voters approved $2.5 billion in funds for flood mitigation, matching funds from federal agencies may fund additional projects.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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