Managing Flood Risk. What to Do?

Backwards Plans for Buffalo Bayou, Cypress Creek and Katy Prairie Prompt Discussion About Flooding and Smart Solutions

Virtual Public Meeting Happening Now!

Here’s How to Participate in the final Virtual Public Meeting Monday, Oct. 26, 1 to 3 p.m.

Here’s the Corps’ Draft Report

Here’s How to Send Comments to the Corps. Deadline Nov. 2!

Oct. 26, 2020

Earlier this month the Galveston District of the US Army Corps of Engineers took the unusual step of releasing an interim draft report detailing their ideas for dealing with the problem of too much stormwater flowing too fast into the cracking, sinking dams the Corps built on Buffalo Bayou and some of its tributaries.

The dams, Addicks and Barker, were built more than seventy years ago way out west of Houston, back when the Katy Prairie was mostly prairie and cow patties.

Since then development moved in and around the normally dry federal reservoirs, even into Barker reservoir. Rainstorms have become heavier and more frequent. Interstate Highway 10, passing between Addicks on the north and Barker on the south was built in the late 1960s. With the active support of the West Houston Association, the highway became the world’s widest freeway as it passes from Houston through Katy.

But building a bigger freeway only created more traffic and more congestion. (And more stormwater runoff.) And the same dynamic applies to the Corps’ proposal to widen and deepen Buffalo Bayou for some 22 miles from the dams to downtown: a bigger bayou will only attract more runoff and create more flooding. Deepening and widening the bayou is also supported by the West Houston Association.

In addition to buying out property above and below the dams, the Corps is proposing building a dam and 22,000-acre reservoir on Cypress Creek and the Katy Prairie. During storms, Cypress Creek overflows south across the prairie into Addicks reservoir, creating more pressure on the dam.

Discussing the Proposals and Alternatives

Independent journalist Sam Oser and Michael Gold of the Cypress Creek Ecological Restoration Project separately conducted interviews exploring the Corps’ proposals prompted by the disaster of Hurricane Harvey, the ideas behind them, and alternative approaches.

Michael Gold talks with Bob Freitag and Susan Chadwick, President and Executive Director of Save Buffalo Bayou on Oct. 22, 2020. Freitag is the lead author of Floodplain Management: A New Approach for a New Era and Director of the Institute for Hazards Mitigation Planning and Research at the University of Washington. Here’s the link to the podcast.

Michael Gold talks with Mary Anne Piacentini of the Katy Prairie Conservancy on Oct. 23, 2020, about the conservancy’s concerns and alternatives to the Corps’ proposals. Piacentini is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the conservancy. Here’s the link to that podcast.

Sam Oser talks with Susan Chadwick of Save Buffalo Bayou on Oct. 24, 2020.


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