Looking at the Big Picture of Flow

Corps of Engineers to Study Everything from Rooftops to Creeks in Houston Region

Jan. 22, 2018


Great news! The US Army Corps of Engineers is doing a very smart and important thing. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the Galveston District office of the Corps is studying the whole system of drainage and flooding in the Houston region: where raindrops fall, how they move across rooftops and pavement and land, through drain pipes and into our bayous and streams, and ultimately into Galveston Bay.

The project is called the Metropolitan Houston Regional Watershed Assessment. Edmond Russo, deputy district engineer for Programs and Project Management in the Corps’ Galveston District, told the Chronicle‘s Mihir Zaveri that the unprecedented study would also analyze how development has impacted flooding and where “chokepoints” are in the city’s drainage system.

Russo suggested that the study would look at measures that individuals could take to reduce the time it takes for rain to run into our drainage systems. Slowing down the flow of rain runoff into streams is crucial to reducing flooding. The faster stormwater flows into a stream, the higher that stream will flood. Houston is behind other major cities that have shifted focus to managing flooding in place — stopping raindrops where they fall rather than after rain runoff floods a stream.

There are 22 identified watersheds in the Houston region. Buffalo Bayou is the main river running through the city of Houston, with most other bayous and streams in the county flowing into it. Buffalo Bayou becomes the Houston Ship Channel and empties into Galveston Bay. In fact, Buffalo Bayou and many of the other watersheds in the region are part of the larger San Jacinto River watershed.

A watershed is the area of land that ultimately drains into a particular water body. Houston has many creeks and ravines that have been covered up and even filled and flattened for development.

Russo told the Chronicle that the study would cost at least $3 million and take approximately three years to complete. It requires congressional approval.

Read about this in the Houston Chronicle.

Harris County Watersheds. Image courtesy of the Harris County Flood Control District.


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