Harris County Commissioners Court Establishes Fund for Flood Resilience Projects

During the June 29 Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting, the Harris County Flood Control District & the Harris County Budget Management Department outlined a plan for a Flood Resilience Trust to provide certainty that all 2018 Bond Program projects will be constructed without delays due to funding. Harris County Commissioners unanimously approved the plan that provides a backup for funding in accordance with the Court-approved Bond Prioritization Framework, but only when needed due to lack of planned partner funding. The plan assures equitable progress across all 2018 Bond Program Projects and lays the groundwork to fund flood control needs beyond the Program.

“The Flood Control District will continue to aggressively pursue partnership funding.  Establishing the Flood Resilience Trust using funds already approved by Court, coupled with additional annual contributions, provides certainty that our projects will be completed in an equitable way, even when we are unable to secure funding from partners,” said Alan Black, Harris County Flood Control District Director of Operations.

As part of the plan, the Flood Control District outlined five key recommendations which include:

  • Continue aggressively pursuing Federal, State and Local partner funds to meet Harris County’s overall needs, but not at the expense of reducing or delaying the scope of priority projects.  
  • Direct funds approved by Court in April to a Flood Resilience Trust to backstop the 2018 bond Program and provide for flood control needs beyond the bond program.
  • Designate additional funds for the Flood Resilience Trust on an annual basis. 
  • Continue the bipartisan political push to ensure the GLO delivers a minimum of $750 million of 2018 Harvey CDBG-MIT funds to Harris County. 

Expand the prioritization framework to include all watershed specific flood control projects and to distribute funds from the Flood Resilience Trust equitably.  

The Flood Control District is currently working on all active projects, and no projects have been delayed due to lack of funding. The establishment of the Flood Resilience Trust along with annual mobility transfers does not eliminate the need for partner funding, but provides certainty to the public that the resources are available if needed to deliver the flood risk reduction projects that voters approved in 2018.  

Any funds deposited in the Flood Resilience Trust that are derived from mobility revenue, such as tolls, must only be used on projects with a clear nexus to mobility.  Establishing that nexus begins with the fact that nearly all roads in Harris County drain to Flood Control District channels, but also, Flood Control District projects can help to reduce if not eliminate flood inundation of roadways during a storm, allowing emergency responders access to neighborhoods.  After a storm, residents can quickly access supplies for recovery, but more importantly can get back to their jobs sooner, helping to make the community more resilient.   

Since the Bond Program’s passage, the Flood Control District has secured more than $1 billion in partnership funding and initiated 160 of the 181 projects identified in the program, spanning all of the County’s 23 watersheds.