Structural Tools

Structural Tools

Flood Damage Reduction Tools - Structural

Channel Modifications

Photo: Widening of Sims Bayou

Also known as channel conveyance improvements, channel modifications are man-made changes to a channel's characteristics, typically for the purposes of reducing flood damages by increasing its overall conveyance capacity. This can be accomplished by widening and/or deepening the channel, reducing the friction by removing woody vegetation, or by occasionally adding concrete lining. It should be noted that only 6% of the channels in the county's drainage infrastructure inventory are concrete lined.

Stormwater Detention (Basin)

Photo: Rendering of Keith-Wiess Park showing flooding conditions and normal conditions

A stormwater detention basin is another structural tool used by the Flood Control District when implementing a project. A stormwater detention basin is a large, usually excavated area of land, frequently adjacent to a channel, which is designed to receive and hold above-normal stormwater volumes. The detained stormwater then slowly drains over time out of the detention basin as water surface elevations in the receiving channel recede.

Bypass Channel Construction

Photo: Jersey Village Bypass Channel

A bypass channel diverts excess stormwater "around" an area with restricted right-of-way or an area with sensitive environmental values. Bypass channel construction involves building a new channel that is attached to an existing channel and, as mentioned, conveying the excess stormwater runoff around its original path. Bypass channels usually "short circuit" the meander or curve of a bayou and are usually constructed in conjunction with downstream channel modifications or a detention basin.

Bridge Modification

Photo: CJ Tamborello Pedestrian Bridge

Bridge modification is another structural tool used in flood damage reduction. It involves the replacement, extension or modification of a bridge in order to remove an impediment to flow within a channel and/or accommodate channel modifications. It can also lessen the likelihood of debris snagging on the bridge piers.


Photo: Inverness Forest Levee, north Harris County

A levee is a physical barrier constructed to protect areas from rising floodwaters. Levees are not feasible in most cases in Harris County for a variety of important reasons. Levees typically remove valuable flood plain storage and block the ability of the channel to move water. There are also concerns with rainfall that falls within the levee itself. Most importantly is the possibility for catastrophic and sudden failure under extreme flood events, potentially resulting in loss of life and total destruction of property.