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August 29, 2017 10:45:07 PM CST

CONTROLLED RELEASES ON ADDICKS AND BARKER RESERVOIR INCREASE FLOODING THREAT ALONG BUFFALO BAYOU

Higher-than-Normal Stormwater Releases Help Reduce Reservoir Pools and Uncontrolled Releases

NOTE: This information is aimed specifically at areas on Buffalo Bayou, located downstream of the two reservoirs

Outlet gates at the Addicks and Barker dams are releasing record levels of stormwater that has been stored in the reservoirs in response to Harvey’s torrential late-August rainfall in Harris County. These additional releases have added to the out-of-banks flooding in neighborhoods along Buffalo Bayou, the receiving bayou from the two federal reservoirs.

Higher-than-normal controlled releases will continue from the reservoirs into Buffalo Bayou as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to lower water levels in both flood control facilities in west Harris County. The Corps is monitoring the impact of the stormwater releases in order to minimize the risk of flooding both above and below the dams.

Current combined controlled releases from the two reservoirs: 13,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)

Target combined controlled releases from the two reservoirs: 16,000 cfs

  • Target Addicks release: 8,000 cfs
  • Target Barkers release: 8,000 cfs

The Corps, which owns and operates the two reservoirs, closed the outlet gates August 25, as rainfall from Harvey began to roll across Harris County. Addicks and Barker were built in the 1940s to protect against flooding in downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel. Outlet gates were later added as a further safety measure so that controlled releases could minimize downstream flooding risks.

Reservoir releases are a common post-storm step. But with reservoir pools at record levels, the controlled stormwater releases through the Addicks and Barker outlets will be significantly larger than usually seen. Releases at varying levels likely will continue until the reservoirs are empty, and will likely last for several months, given the record volume of water in the reservoirs.

Current pool levels in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs are near their peak from Harvey. Corps officials are keeping a close eye on the forecast and will make the decision whether or not to close the reservoir gates again, in advance of any future storms moving into the region.

PLEASE NOTE: The water being released from the reservoirs WILL NOT impact streets located behind (or upstream of) the reservoir. The water impacting those streets is the result of water rising in the reservoirs themselves. The releases will actually lower the reservoirs’ water levels. Currently, there is more flood water entering the reservoirs than can be released, so some areas adjacent to the reservoir will still be experiencing some rising water.

WATER FLOW BEHIND THE RESERVOIRS; AND WATER RELEASES INTO BUFFALO BAYOU

Addicks and Barker reservoir levels will start to lower slowly with the releases. Creeks and channels that flow into the reservoirs are also ponding water at the same level as the reservoirs, but will start to recede as the reservoirs lower. Adjacent stormwater detention basins will do the same. All levels will decrease as the reservoir levels are reduced.

Constructed in the 1940s, both reservoirs are normally kept dry to preserve their overall capacity to impound storm water and reduce flood levels in Buffalo Bayou. When a rain event occurs, the gates are closed on the Addicks and Barker dams to reduce flooding below the reservoirs. When the downstream runoff has receded to non-damaging stages, reservoir operations resume, the gates are opened, and water is released.

The Corps also closely monitors water levels within the reservoirs, and provides updates to city, county, transportation and emergency management partners as the impoundment of rainwater in the reservoirs that impacts public recreation areas and traffic on state and county roads located within the reservoirs.

Residents immediately adjacent to the Addicks and Barker reservoirs are urged to remain alert and take precautionary measures, as necessary. Any questions regarding the reservoirs should be directed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Galveston District Emergency Operations Center at 409-766-6377 or www.swg.usace.army.mil. On Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston

To learn more about the Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Program, visit www.addicksandbarker.info. For more news and information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston. 

Affected Harris County residents are urged to report house flooding at www.readyharris.org/go/survey/1829/11787/ or by calling the Harris County Flood Control District’s phone bank at 713-684-4000. 

About the Harris County Flood Control District

The Harris County Flood Control District provides flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. With more than 1,500 bayous and creeks totaling approximately 2,500 miles in length, the Flood Control District accomplishes its mission by devising flood damage reduction plans, implementing the plans and maintaining the infrastructure.

SAFETY ALERT: RESIDENTS ARE ADVISED NOT TO DRIVE OR WALK INTO HIGH WATER ON STREETS; NOR TO BOAT OR SWIM ON BUFFALO BAYOU, OR ANY BAYOU OR CREEK WHILE FLOODWATERS RECEED. BAYOU AND CREEK WATER LEVELS ARE HIGH THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY AND THEIR CURRENTS ARE SWIFT AND DANGEROUS.

To learn more about the Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Program, or for more news and information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.