Money Down the Drain

Widening and Deepening Our Waterways Is Not the Answer to Flooding

Chadwick: Practices to reduce flooding risk are out of line with our region’s needs

“We just can’t keep developing the way we’ve been developing”

By Susan Chadwick, Houston Chronicle Outlook, Jan. 23, 2017

Houstonians last week once again found themselves facing flooded homes and cars, closed schools, roads and transport. No doubt they were asking, “Why does this keep happening?”

Maybe it’s because our political leaders are prioritizing the wrong solutions and are treating the symptoms instead of the problem. Widening and deepening bayous, a top priority for city and county officials, is an ineffective, environmentally damaging and unnecessarily costly approach to reducing flooding.

Yet widening and deepening bayous is the stated policy and practice of the Harris County Flood Control District and a recommendation of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s 2016 Transition Report on ReBuild Houston, a report largely written by engineers. The practice also is embraced by conventional wisdom. Widening bayou channels was one of a number of responses to the region’s flooding problems listed in a recent Chronicle article, “How to Fix the Houston Floods,” by Dylan Baddour (HoustonChronicle.com, Dec. 31), as well as in a commentary by former mayoral candidate Bill King (“Homeowners puzzled by increase in floods” Page A13, Jan. 13).

Here’s why widening and deepening our bayous and streams is the wrong approach:

Read the rest of this article in the Houston Chronicle.

Carlos Gutierrez is calf-deep in water from heavy overnight rains at his house near the 2600 block of Creston on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Photo for the Houston Chronicle by Brett Coomer.

Carlos Gutierrez is calf-deep in water from heavy overnight rains at his house near the 2600 block of Creston on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Photo for the Houston Chronicle by Brett Coomer.

 

2 thoughts on “Money Down the Drain”

  1. Peter Brown says:

    Right on! Elected officials have not been truthful with the public presiding over weak and obsolete standards and poor civil engineering which make severe flooding inevitable! Why doesn’t our “Flood Czar” Steve Costello speak out? One has to conclude that Houston is a “developers’ metro area, and for untoward reasons, no public official wants to buck the powerful coalition of developers and builders. Let’s give Ft. Bend county a partial reprieve, for its laudable efforts.
    The culprits besides public officials therefore are weak-kneeed engineers, TxDOT, the Harris County Flood Control District, and a bevy of compliant insider lawyers, and consultants. I am sorry to say that it’s mostly about insider politics and monetary greed. The public should be outraged!
    If we want to protect property owners from devastating flood damages, we have to change this immoral culture! Not likely given Houston politics, so it will probably take a metro region flood of unimaginable intensity.

    Peter Brown

  2. Elias Rodriquez says:

    In my initial note to this organization, I TOLD them this was the wrong thing to do and I saw this in the late 1950’s….ya never learn.

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