Barker Reservoir

Barker Reservoir

Watershed Overview

Drainage Area Watershed Population Open Stream Miles Primary Streams
126 Sq. Miles 112,721 - Harris County Portion (2020 Census Data) 69 Miles Mason Creek
Upper Buffalo Bayou

The Barker Reservoir watershed encompasses the area that drains into Barker Reservoir. This reservoir, together with Addicks Reservoir, was created as part of a federal project to control flooding on Buffalo Bayou and protect downtown Houston. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) completed construction of the Barker Dam and outlet facility in 1945 and continues to own, operate and maintain the dam and outlet facilities. The watershed is located in west Harris County and extends into Fort Bend and Waller counties, encompassing portions of the cities of Houston and Katy. The Barker Reservoir watershed covers approximately 126 square miles and includes two primary streams: Mason Creek and Upper Buffalo Bayou. There are about 69 miles of open streams within the watershed, of which approximately 51 miles are within Harris County. Based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the estimated population of the Harris County portion of the Barker Reservoir watershed is 88,895.

The threat of flooding from high volumes of stormwater draining into the reservoir from its natural watershed is a concern. The need to control release rates from the reservoir during potential flood events causes concern for developments along the fringes of the reservoir boundary and for major thoroughfares. These concerns have prompted subregional planning on the major tributaries draining into the reservoir.

Land Use

Development is mostly upstream of the periphery of the reservoir, along and south of I-10 and will likely continue in a westerly direction. Agricultural uses dominate the remaining areas of the watershed and within the reservoir. The reservoir also includes public recreational facilities and natural areas.


The Corps has placed limits on the flow rates for channels entering the reservoir. The limits vary for each sub-watershed based on the development levels that existed in late 1970's to mid 1980's. Operation of the outlet facilities controls the discharges from the reservoir into Buffalo Bayou.


Environmentally sensitive areas exist within the reservoir boundaries and the upper undeveloped regions of the watershed. These areas exhibit a wide range of wildlife habitats.

How Water Flows In The Barker Reservoir Watershed