Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium Issues Recommendations for San Jacinto Watershed

WhataBurger in the new HEB shopping center during flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Photo: Courtesy of John Knoerzer.

The Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium issued a region-wide 64-page report on April 5, 2018. It begins with a discussion of the pros and cons of various flood mitigation strategies in general. Then it looks at strategies that apply to each watershed within the region and the equity of funding for each watershed.

The San Jacinto watershed, they say, contains 3% of the region’s population, gets 0% of the budget, and had 14% of the region’s damages.

The Consortium’s discussion of recommendations for the San Jacinto watershed begins on page 48 and continues on page 49. Because the complete report is more than a 130 megabyte download, I quote their recommendations  for us below:

  • In-depth engineering studies and science-based hydrologic and ecological assessments to determine the cost, benefits and risks associated with the following proposed flood mitigation strategies:
    • Making structural alterations to Lake Houston dam and spillway
    • Dredging along the San Jacinto River and in Lake Houston
    • Construction of a Montgomery County reservoir system / fourth reservoir
  • Stricter regulation of sand mining operations, acquisition and complete restoration of land associated with past sand mining operations. Enact stricter state regulations and enforce penalties to shut down illegal mine operations that do not have required permits; strict enforcement of existing rules; require full restoration and/or create an in lieu fee program to finance restoration of closed and abandoned sand mining sites.
  • Stricter development regulations for the watersheds in the San Jacinto River Basin
  • Outreach to stakeholders and communities in the San Jacinto River Basin to increase awareness and facilitate greater transparency in reservoir operation and management and development of flood mitigation strategies.
  • Increased deployment of green infrastructure strategies including conservation easements, land acquisition and LID as population growth and development continues at a rapid pace. Creation of a regional LID guidelines template for use by local and county governments and LID performance criteria needed.
  • Create a San Jacinto River Community Advisory Council that meets regularly with public operators and functions similarly to community advisory councils in Houston Ship Channel industrial communities.
  • Stricter floodplain development regulations extending beyond the 500-year floodplain based on Atlas14 rainfall estimates

The entire report is a good read. It’s well designed and filled with helpful illustrations. People seriously interested in flood mitigation should download and read the whole survey. It’s extremely thoughtful and balanced.

Here is the Houston Chronicle’s take on the Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium’s report.

Posted April 6, 2018, 219 Days After Hurricane Harvey.