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Brays Bayou Watershed

Brays Bayou watershed, showing project elements.
Brays Bayou watershed, showing project elements.

The Brays Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Project
The Brays Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Project, otherwise known as Project Brays, is a partnership project between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Harris County Flood Control District (the District). The District is the lead agency for this project, thanks to an arrangement approved by Congress as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, or WRDA 96. WRDA 96 allows the non-federal sponsor to take the lead on a project like this and get reimbursed for the federal share of the cost once functional segments of the project are constructed.

Project Brays includes 21 miles of channel improvements, several stormwater detention basins and environmental enhancements along Brays Bayou and some of its tributaries. The project begins at the Houston Ship Channel and extends upstream over 30 miles to Highway 6. Upon completion, the project will remove the 1% (100-year) floodplain from tens of thousands of homes and commercial structures. The project requires replacement or modification of 32 bridges, channel conveyance improvements, stormwater detention, acquisition of flood-prone land, and limited acquisition/buyout of existing structures.

For more detailed information and up-to-date progress on Project Brays, visit the Project Brays website at www.projectbrays.org.

Project Cost
Total project cost for Project Brays is estimated at $450 million dollars, with the federal government and the District paying approximately 50% each.

Estimated Completion Date
Project Brays is scheduled for completion in 2014. It's important to note that, with the completion of each segment, the project will deliver some level of relief and steadily reduce the risk of flooding.

Brief History Behind the Project
Throughout the 20th century, several damaging floods occurred along Brays Bayou, causing damage to residences and businesses in many communities in Harris County. To reduce the risk of flooding, the Corps implemented a major flood damage reduction project along the bayou from 1957 to 1968. Over the years, the completed Corps project has significantly reduced flood losses, but flooding risks still exist today. Since the completion of the project more than 30 years ago, there have been six significant floods along Brays Bayou, most recently from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

Project Features Support Community and Natural Values
Although the focus of Project Brays is the reduction of flooding and flood damages along Brays Bayou, other important components are the appearance of the land and addition of recreational features to help create a special place for neighbors and families to enjoy when the area is not needed for flooding. During the urban design phase, strategic partnerships and community input are vital to the success of the project. Similar projects have resulted in the addition of amenities such as walking paths, bike trails and picnic areas. The Greenway at Willow Waterhole is a joint project among the District, City of Houston, and The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to create park and recreational amenities on up to 250 acres being acquired for stormwater detention. The project will be linked to other areas of the Brays Bayou watershed with trails being developed by the City of Houston and Harris County.

Artist's rendering of Project Brays. Top illustration: low reach of Project Brays. Middle illustration: mid reach of Project Brays. Bottom illustration: upper reach of stormwater detention basin for Project Brays.

During the planning and implementation of Project Brays, the Harris County Flood Control District has taken and continues to take precautions to minimize the risk of environmental impact. For example, the proposed designs for bayou parkways include the preservation or moving of existing trees and the planting of additional trees and shrubs where existing trees cannot be saved. It also includes the creation of wetlands and wildlife habitat.

Your Input is Important to Us
Public knowledge, input and participation are extremely important to the District and in ensuring the success of Project Brays. That is why the District's Project Brays team has been carrying out a public information program. The public will be able to access information through a variety of tools, including local community meetings and presentations, newsletters, direct mail, the Project Brays website and regular e-mail updates. The District has and will continue to host public meetings and open houses with community groups along the bayou to share more about the project and gather feedback on various aspects of the project. To find out when a public meeting or presentation will be in your community, log on to ProjectBrays.org or call Project Brays, at 713-316-4820.

The Brays Bayou Watershed
The Brays Bayou watershed is located in southwest Harris County and portions of Ft. Bend County. This heavily urbanized watershed drains parts of the cities of Houston, Missouri City, Stafford, Bellaire, West University, Southside Place and the Meadows. Brays Bayou flows eastward from Fort Bend County to its confluence with the Houston Ship Channel. The Brays Bayou watershed covers approximately 127 square miles and includes three primary streams: Brays Bayou, Keegans Bayou and Willow Waterhole. There are about 121 miles of streams within the watershed, including the primary streams and tributary channels. The estimated population within the Brays Bayou watershed (Harris County portion) in 2000 was just over 722,000.

Although the Brays Bayou watershed is fully urbanized, several large urban parks are located within the watershed.

Harris County Flood Control District
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