Feasibility study - The need for a flood damage reduction project may be identified in various ways: a citizen suggestion, a county official’s request, or a Flood Control District conceptual analysis. Once a flooding problem is identified, the project moves into the first step of the project lifecycle – a feasibility study. The feasibility study usually involves further analysis of the flooding problem, communicating with the public and key stakeholders and determining major components of a possible plan to achieve flood damage reduction goals. This is often the stage when the public first learns about a Flood Control District project.
Preliminary engineering - Once a feasibility study report has been approved, and if funding is available, the project moves into the project development or preliminary engineering stage. During this stage, Flood Control District engineers and environmental specialists develop and evaluate possible alternatives, prepare a project development or preliminary engineering report that includes project recommendations that meet flood damage reduction goals. This report will identify needed right-of-way, determine utility relocation and develop a preliminary cost estimate.
Right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation - Once the project development/preliminary engineering report is approved, the project may advance to the right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation stage. The Flood Control District will either purchase property outright or acquire a specific-use easement for property needed to widen a channel or build a stormwater detention basin. In many cases, telephone, electricity and gas lines must be moved out of the way. Again, cost and changing priorities may cause the project to be reevaluated.
Design - If the project continues to address current Flood Control District priorities, and if funding is available, the project moves into the design stage. During this stage, civil engineers prepare construction plans, specifications and more detailed cost estimates. This stage may overlap with the previous stage of right-of-way acquisition and utility relocations, since those activities may affect final design considerations. Periodic reevaluations also may affect final design.
Construction - With a set of detailed construction documents in hand, the Flood Control District may move into the construction stage, if funding is available. During this most visible stage, action moves from the office to the construction site. A six-to-eight-week bidding process results in the Harris County Commissioners Court awarding the construction contract to a contractor. Projects may involve several construction phases and major projects may take years to complete. Along the way, the public will be notified about road and bridge closures and other common disruptions.
Operation and maintenance - Once construction is complete and final contracts have been closed out, operation and maintenance of the project becomes the responsibility of the Flood Control District’s Infrastructure Division, which will mow, repair and otherwise maintain the facility.
Eventually, flood damage reduction facilities exceed their lifespan and need to be updated or replaced as part of the project lifecycle. Technological advances over the years also enable the Flood Control District to upgrade our facilities with new or advanced tools and techniques. Future project modernization might include widening, deepening or restoring an existing channel, adding additional vegetation around a stormwater detention basin or reconstructing a waterway with natural channel design elements. Each flood damage reduction project is monitored and assessed as years go by to make sure it continues to support the goal of flood damage reduction consistent with community and natural values.