Watershed Environmental Baseline (W.E.B.) Program
Establishing a Baseline for Community and Natural Values
In order to fulfill the Harris County Flood Control District's mission to "Provide flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values," it is imperative that the District achieve an even greater understanding of the environmental qualities of each of the 22 watersheds within Harris County and the bayous and creeks that drain them.
The District's Regulatory Compliance Department has developed a program that will document the baseline environmental conditions of Harris County's watersheds and proposed project areas in a format that will serve as a highly effective planning tool. This endeavor, the W.E.B. Program, will enable the District to do the following:
- Identify those segments of streams that maintain high natural habitat values in order to avoid degradation as part of future flood damage reduction measures.
- Distinguish between floodplain tracts that possess characteristics making them best suited for either regional stormwater detention basins or to leave them alone, preserve them and let them provide areas for floodwater storage.
- Identify environmentally sensitive areas, areas having other concerns such as contamination or areas that others are working to preserve.
Each watershed or proposed project area will have an environmental inventory performed and each natural, cultural, and physical resource deemed necessary to evaluate potential project alternatives, will be cataloged and quantified in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), referred to as a Watershed Environmental Baseline (W.E.B.) Map.
Total Integration of All Data
Each W.E.B. Program study will be in both report form and in a digital GIS. All of the W.E.B. Program electronic documents will be integrated, so as to be fully compatible for seamless viewing and data access across watershed boundaries. For each watershed or proposed project area within Harris County, the following data will be reviewed by the project planning team:
- Regulated and non-regulated wetlands
- Cultural resource sites and potential sites
- Threatened and endangered species locations and sensitive/unique habitats
- Hazardous and toxic materials sites
- Pipelines oil and gas well locations
- Stream habitat quality assessment
- FEMA floodplains
W.E.B. Map Geodatabase Serves as Environmental Data Clearing House for the District
The W.E.B. Map Geodatabase Model that will result from this program contains a comprehensive set of data layers displaying vegetation, threatened and endangered species, wetlands, stream habitat, water quality, cultural resources, geologic formations and structures, soils, oil and gas wells and pipelines, hazardous materials, land use, topography, and watersheds.
W.E.B. Map Geodatabase Standard Ensures Overall Program Consistency
Building the W.E.B. Map in the Geodatabase in the GIS format provides the District greater analytical functionality, increased editing, maintenance, and deployment capabilities. This GIS standardization document provides a consistent baseline tool for all contractors to follow.
The bottom line is, with completion of the W.E.B Program, the District's mission is more effectively implemented, while consideration of community and natural values is heightened.