Champions Stormwater Detention Basin K500-24-00

Champions Stormwater Detention Basin K500-24-00
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Public Meeting - POSTPONED

In an abundance of caution and in line with other City of Houston and Harris County agencies, the Harris County Flood Control District has postponed the Public Meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 31. 

Please continue to check the project webpage for project updates and future meeting information.

Recent Action

March 10, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized a $200,000 agreement for hydrologic and hydraulic services for an alternatives analysis in support of this project.

February 11, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized negotiations with an engineering firm for preliminary engineering, design, bidding and construction stage engineering services in support of a project.

February 11, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized an HCFCD Unit Number, K500-24-00, for the Champions Stormwater Detention Basin project and authorized the Flood Control District to proceed with planning, design and construction of a project.

January 30, 2020 - The Flood Control District closed on the purchase of 27.6 acres of land, including the Raveneaux Clubhouse grounds.

January 7, 2020 - Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the acquisition of 27.63 acres owned by Kera Development LP and Cypress/Raveneaux LLC along with its lease interest in the remaining 206 acres of golf course property.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION 

On January 30, 2020, the Flood Control District closed on the purchase of 27.6 acres of land, including the Raveneaux Clubhouse grounds. In February, the Flood Control District will begin discussions with the Cypress Forest Public Utility District regarding an agreement to acquire the remaining acreage that primarily makes up the golf course. Funding for this acquisition will come from the 2018 HCFCD Bond Project F-20, Cypress Creek Right-of-Way Acquisition and Floodplain Preservation.

It is the Flood Control District’s intent to build a regional stormwater detention basin on the Raveneaux property, to reduce flooding risks in the Cypress Creek watershed. The Flood Control District realizes that community interest in this matter is very high. At this time, project specifics have not been determined. The Flood Control District will have community engagement meetings to solicit input and ideas about the future project.

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Champions Stormwater Detention Basin and Raveneaux Acquisition

Raveneaux FAQs

I’m concerned about flooding. What is the Flood Control District’s plan for the property?

The property is being acquired for a regional stormwater detention basin that will reduce flooding risks along Cypress Creek. At this time, there are no specific plans for the size, design, or other features of that basin. A detailed plan will be developed in the future during the preliminary engineering process, which will include community engagement.

Stormwater detention basins reduce flooding risks by taking in and holding stormwater during heavy rain events and slowly releasing it back to the creek or channel after the threat of flooding has passed.

The Flood Control District is working on a preliminary estimate of how many homes in the Cypress Creek watershed would have a lower risk of flooding if a large stormwater detention basin were excavated on this property. This estimate would be based on an assumed basin size; no decision has been made about the footprint or other specific features of the proposed basin.

Will the Flood Control District operate the golf course or demolish the clubhouse, pools, tennis courts etc.?

The Flood Control District does not operate or maintain facilities such as clubhouses, pools, tennis courts, etc. However, another partner can operate those types of facilities on Flood Control District property, under an agreement with the Flood Control District. If no partner is found to operate and maintain those types of facilities, most likely they would be demolished as part of a stormwater detention basin project.

I’m concerned about my property values. Will the Flood Control District add recreational amenities or features that would make the property a community asset?

Specific details about this project have not been decided or designed, and will not be decided or designed without public engagement.

The Flood Control District does not build, operate or maintain facilities such as trails, sports fields or playgrounds. However, the Flood Control District does support multiple uses of its property for other compatible recreational uses that do not interfere with a project’s flood risk reduction function.

We work with many partners around Harris County that design, build, and maintain compatible recreational amenities on flood control land.

In general, the Flood Control District supports establishing/maintaining a wooded riparian corridor along Cypress Creek to help prevent future bank erosion. The Flood Control District is also interested in planting a large number of trees in key locations for environmental benefits, and to reduce required maintenance. Such plantings would have the added benefit of being aesthetically pleasing.

The Flood Control District makes no promises to anyone as to the future details of the property. However, the Flood Control District is committed to seeking public engagement and input, even if we cannot ultimately provide all that the community might request.

The Flood Control District cannot predict how property values will change as a result of this proposed project. However, the Flood Control District knows that properties with a lower risk of flooding have a higher value than properties with a high risk of flooding.

What is planned for community engagement?

The 2018 HCFCD Bond Program requires community engagement during the preliminary engineering phase of the HCFCD project lifecycle.

A detailed plan for additional community engagement in connection with the Raveneaux sale and flood risk reduction project has not been developed, but it is the Flood Control District’s intent to be transparent about our future plans for the property. Please watch this webpage for updates.

Upcoming Community Engagement Meetings are listed here:
https://www.hcfcd.org/Resilience/2018-Bond-Program/Community-Engagement-Meetings

More information about the typical project lifecycle is here:
https://www.hcfcd.org/Resilience/2018-Bond-Program/Project-Lifecycle

Who is handling property negotiations?

Flood Control District property acquisitions are handled by the Harris County Real Property Division with direct involvement of Flood Control management.

Here are examples of other stormwater detention basins that combine flood control and recreational amenities:

CAN CYPRESS CREEK BE DREDGED, DEEPENED/WIDENED, STRAIGHTENED, AND/OR CONCRETE-LINED TO IMPROVE THE LEVEL OF SERVICE?

As with other natural channels in Harris County – such as Buffalo Bayou, Spring Creek, Luce Bayou, Jackson Bayou, Armand Bayou, Cedar Creek and Little Cypress Creek – the Flood Control District has no plans to concrete-line or rectify (straighten and remove meanders from) Cypress Creek. It is not a simple process to rectify, concrete-line, or widen/deepen a natural channel. Any of these would be extremely costly, i.e. more than the 2018 Bond Program could fund. This is because of the combination of property acquisition, flood mitigation, environmental permitting and environmental compensatory mitigation that would be required.

Cypress Creek and other channels in their current naturalized state are considered by our federal government to have significant environmental value. They are part of the “waters of the United States” protected by the federal Clean Water Act. Reducing that environmental value by dredging, widening, deepening, straightening, concrete-lining etc. would require an environmental permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That process alone is lengthy and expensive. IF granted at all, the permit would require replacing the lost environmental functions and values of the impacted streams and wetlands with similar or better functions and values within the same watershed, through a process known as compensatory mitigation. 

Compensatory mitigation can be quite expensive, in the millions of dollars per mile of impacted channel, whichever method of mitigation is chosen. For example, compensatory mitigation could involve purchasing credits in an environmental mitigation bank, if one is available. Or, it might involve a special type of channel design that would require a wider waterway corridor, meaning homes and businesses along Cypress Creek would need to be acquired and demolished to make room. In order to provide a 100-year level of service, the Flood Control District estimates the environmental mitigation costs alone to be greater than $262 million. 

Any project that would provide faster stormwater conveyance – especially rectifying or straightening –also would require additional, expensive property acquisition for stormwater detention to mitigate for the increased flow, to ensure that it does not flood people downstream. People who live or own businesses along Cypress Creek may not be willing to sell their properties for this purpose. The Flood Control District estimates the property acquisition costs to be greater than $600 million. The Flood Control District estimates the costs for 30 bridge replacements and 75 pipeline adjustments to be greater than $177 million. 

In total, to channelize Cypress Creek to provide a 100-year level of service would cost more than $3 billion. This total amount includes: wetlands mitigation, streambank mitigation, right-of-way acquisition, building acquisition, demolition, channel excavation, turf establishment, bridge demolition and reconstruction, pipeline adjustments and relocations, engineering costs, and a construction contingency. A project of this magnitude could take decades to complete. 

This type of project would require the removal of all or most of the riparian forest that now lines much of Cypress Creek. While some residents may be in favor of rectifying/deepening/widening, there is also strong community support for protecting Cypress Creek and allowing it to remain in a naturalized state. 

The Flood Control District may remove accumulated sediment and debris from a natural channel as part of a maintenance project, but not in a way that deepens or widens the creek. Maintenance projects that restore channel conditions of historically rectified channels to pre-storm dimensions (width, depth and bank slope) can typically be authorized under the Clean Water Act by a general permit, also known as a Nationwide Permit. Nationwide Permits are intended for activities that exhibit minimal adverse environmental effects, such as restoring a historically rectified channel to its pre-storm condition. Projects or activities that improve the condition of both historic and natural channels with respect to capacity (width and depth), lining, and location require an Individual Permit and compensatory mitigation for any lost aquatic resource functions. The process to assess and document existing aquatic resource values and develop a mitigation plan to compensate for temporary and permanent impacts is time-consuming and costly due to the coordination with regulatory agencies and other stakeholders.