C-12 Poor Farm Ditch

C-12 Poor Farm Ditch


Poor Farm Ditch (HCFCD Unit D111-00-00) is a man-made drainage channel constructed more than 55 years ago that carries stormwater from surrounding neighborhoods in southwest Harris County to Brays Bayou. The channel provides drainage to portions of the cities of West University Place, Southside Place, Houston and Bellaire. 

Prompted by concerns of frequent street and house flooding, as well as failing infrastructure in Poor Farm Ditch, the Harris County Flood Control District, in 2002, initiated a regional drainage study to investigate alternative improvements that might be considered. 

During the execution of the study, a stakeholders group comprised of representatives from the cities of West University Place, Southside Place, Houston and Bellaire, as well as representatives from the Braeswood Place Homeowners Association, was organized to help the Flood Control District formulate alternatives and assess community preferences regarding possible solutions. The study findings were published in 2004.

Current Status

In October 2019, the Flood Control District notified the cities of Southside Place and West University Place its decision to put the project on hold for the foreseeable future. The substantially complete design is a technical solution that can be constructed within the extremely limited Poor Farm Ditch area. 

Given that there is not consensus support of the design among city leaders and residents, and the $18 million construction cost is not currently funded, the project is indefinitely on hold. To move forward, the cities of Southside Place and West University Place will need to reach a consensus to support the Flood Control District’s design and be prepared to invest in a local match of funding, which is part of the $18 million construction costs. The Flood Control District will also need to identify funding for the majority of the construction. 

The Flood Control District will continue to perform necessary spot repairs and debris clearing as needed.

Feasibility study

The study was directed by Flood Control District staff and supported by Claunch & Miller Inc., engineering consultants, and focused on the hydraulic capacity and constraints of Poor Farm Ditch. Poor Farm Ditch provides drainage to approximately 1,330 acres of highly developed watershed. The analysis considered stormwater flow that would be generated by both 10 percent (10-year) and 1 percent (100-year) rainfall events. Because of the channel’s close interface with Brays Bayou, and the ongoing federal flood damage reduction project (“Project Brays”) sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Flood Control District, the study had to consider stormwater detention volume needed to mitigate the potential impacts on Brays Bayou resulting from identified improvements on this tributary channel.

Key findings from the Regional Study included the following: 

  • Poor Farm Ditch upstream of University Boulevard has adequate capacity to convey runoff from a 1 percent (100-year) storm event. 
  • Poor Farm Ditch downstream of Bellaire Boulevard to the confluence with Brays Bayou has 57 percent excess capacity to convey runoff from a 1 percent (100-year) storm event. 
  • The reach of Poor Farm Ditch between University and Bellaire boulevards is not adequate and would need to be enlarged by as much as 75 percent to convey runoff from a 1 percent (100-year) storm event.
  • The Bellaire Boulevard bridge needed to be widened because it was a constraint to stormwater conveyance. This bridge was later modified in 2012. 

The study concluded that, despite making the improvements to the reach of Poor Farm Ditch between University and Bellaire boulevards, the channel downstream of Bellaire Boulevard had more than adequate capacity to contain the increased flow within banks. No additional stormwater mitigation was necessary. However, the study also concluded it would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of the proposed Poor Farm Ditch improvements on Brays Bayou by providing stormwater detention along Brays Bayou. It was estimated that 43 acre-feet of mitigation was necessary to mitigate impacts of the proposed Poor Farm Ditch improvements.

Project Design – Poor Farm Ditch

In 2015, the Flood Control District notified the cities of Southside Place and West University Place that funding had been identified for design and that the Flood Control District would actively pursue design and construction. In 2016, further study by the Flood Control District narrowed the design to one option based on the constructability of a replacement ditch within very tight right-of-way constraints. The Flood Control District initiated meetings with Southside Place and West University Place with the goal of entering into agreements which would allow for construction to begin. 

In 2017, before plans were finalized by all parties, Hurricane Harvey brought devastating rains to many areas of Houston. As a result, funding for construction of Poor Farm Ditch was reassigned to more immediate repair needs.

In September 2018, Harris County Commissioners Court authorized an application to the Texas Division of Emergency Management for a grant in support of this project

The Harris County Flood Control District has a significant number of flood damage reduction projects occurring all over Harris County as part of its on-going Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Operations and Maintenance, and the 2018 Bond Program. Click on the red and orange highlighted areas to learn about projects' details. Some early-stage projects are not highlighted in the map. The map will be updated when projects advance or when more information becomes available. 

• Maintenance Projects   
• Capital Projects