Harris County Flood Control District and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announce Path Forward for The Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study

HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS – The Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District have agreed to a new collaborative path forward for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study (BBTRS). With this agreement, the Flood Control District will contribute additional funding and technical assistance to support the BBTRS effort and will temporarily take the lead on additional analysis of various study alternatives, including deep stormwater tunnels.

“We need a long-term solution that’ll preserve our existing communities and businesses. It’s why I’ve invested Precinct 3 funds to the cause,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey. “This study is so important, because it allows us access to federal funding, and I’m thankful to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their partnership and investment in our region.”

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, USACE initiated the BBTRS effort to identify and recommend actions to reduce flood risks to people, property, and communities within the Buffalo Bayou, Addicks, and Barker watersheds. These efforts included focusing on improving the capabilities of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, both federal projects, to reduce the risk of flooding upstream of the reservoirs and downstream along Buffalo Bayou. To date, USACE has studied multiple alternatives but has not yet identified a cost-effective, implementable, and community-supported project that meets the minimum requirements for securing federal interest in the project.

“BBTRS is critical because it will help engage the federal government and will evaluate the impact on people, not simply structures,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones. “It is essential that we assess this potential option so that we are fully informed when we make future decisions and spend our tax dollars most effectively.”

Through this new collaboration, the Flood Control District and USACE aim to better position the BBTRS effort to achieve a successful long-term outcome. In making decisions related to BBTRS, the Flood Control District has three guiding objectives:

• Finding a cost-effective, implementable, and community-supported solution that significantly reduces the remaining flood risk associated with the operation of Addicks and Barker reservoirs;
• Securing federal funding for the design and construction of the recommended solution; and
• Enhancing the resilience of vulnerable communities in Harris County and supporting integrated solutions that transform the county’s ability to manage evolving flood risks.

Specifically, this approach allows the Flood Control District, in partnership with USACE, to further advance and evaluate study alternatives using newly available state-of-the-art hydrologic and hydraulic models. The desired outcome is to strengthen the multi-faceted justification for federal interest in the project, considering and balancing economic, environmental, and social factors. In partnership with USACE, the Flood Control District will have approximately one year to complete its in-depth evaluation of select alternatives. Following the conclusion of the Flood Control District’s evaluation, USACE intends to complete the study by 2026.

“We’re excited to continue working with the Harris County Flood Control District to find a way to bring the communities along Buffalo Bayou an effective means to further reduce flood risks,” said Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, USACE Galveston District’s commander. “I believe that together we can find a solution which best meets the needs of the affected communities.”

Sheldra Brigham
[email protected]