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Hurricane Harvey

Types of Drainage Right-of-Way

The Harris County Flood Control District has completed a preliminary property rights (right-of-way) investigation for the channels in the Kingwood area. Channel property rights in the Kingwood area are very complex.

Kingwood was developed by the Friendswood Development Company starting in the 1970s and contained several Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) and Utility Districts (UDs). Kingwood was annexed by the City of Houston on December 11, 1996. All the assets of the MUDs and UDs were transferred to the City of Houston via City Council action; however, the City of Houston did not transfer this ownership in the Harris County property records.  

There are two types of property ownership (right-of-way):

  • Easement – Limited interest in real property for a specific purpose, usually designated in the granting instrument or plat. Another entity or individual has fee title to the property.
  • Fee – Full ownership of real property by an individual or entity.

Several of the channel easements in Kingwood were only temporary, thus no drainage easement currently exists. Lake Houston has two sets of property rights: (1) City of Houston fee ownership for Lake Houston and (2) City of Houston easement for Lake Houston. 

The Flood Control District can only conduct work on channels where it has property rights (right-of-way). There are two types of Flood Control District channel property rights:

  • Flood Control District fee, defined as full ownership of real property
  • Flood Control District easement or public drainage easement, defined as a limited interest in real property for a specific purpose, usually designated in the granting instrument or plat. Another entity or individual has fee title to the property.

Drainage easements can be conveyed to the Flood Control District by dedication on a plat or by separate instrument. Drainage fees can be conveyed to the Flood Control District by separate instrument.