City of Houston Receives $3.3 Million FEMA Grant for Design and Permitting of Additional Gates For Lake Houston Dam

This week, FEMA awarded $3.3 million for the design, engineering and environmental permitting (Phase I) of additional gates for the Lake Houston dam. Under the 75:25 matching terms of the grant, local sources including the City and Harris County will contribute approximately another million bringing the total available for Phase 1 to $4.375 million.

FEMA notified Congressman Dan Crenshaw regarding the award who then notified Houston Council Member Dave Martin. The award comes through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

Construction Funding Also Committed But Will Require Confirmation of Cost/Benefit Ratio

FEMA also committed funds for construction, but release of those funds is contingent on confirmation of the cost/benefit analysis after completion of Phase I.

The total award for the City of Houston Lake Houston Dam Spillway Improvement Project Phases I and II comes to $47,170,953.

Of that amount, the Federal share comes to $35,378,214.75 and the Non-Federal Share totals $11,792,738.25. City and Harris County shares of the Non-Federal portion have not yet been determined according to Martin’s office.

Lake Houston Area and Downstream Residents Protected

Congressman Crenshaw announced, “Today, FEMA approved $3.3 million for Phase 1 of the gates at the Lake Houston Dam. These gates will increase the flow out of Lake Houston significantly. This money will ensure that the final design will not impact downstream residents and will provide the anticipated relief to the Lake Houston area.  Increasing the conveyance will have positive impacts for the entire San Jacinto watershed including the East Fork and the West Fork. For a community that feels the burden of flooding too often, this is a huge win.”

Mr. Martin has worked to obtain the grant for nearly two years. Martin also played a role in dredging. As part of his press release on the gates, Martin noted that the Army Corps is now half-finished with the 500,000 cubic yards that it intends to remove from the mouth bar between Kings Point and Atascocita Point.

Crenshaw and Martin say they will continue to fight for the removal of even more material from the mouth-bar. They also thanked Governor Abbott, TDEM Chief Kidd, State Senator Creighton, Representative Huberty, Houston Mayor Turner, and Houston Chief Resiliency Officer Costello for their help on the Lake Houston Spillway Dam project.

Martin said, “The Lake Houston Dam gates give us the ability to proactively release water from Lake Houston in an expeditious fashion if needed during an emergency.”

State Role in Two-Step Process

Funding is awarded directly to the State of Texas Division of Emergency Management (our version of FEMA) and will be transferred to Houston in two steps. Phase I gets the project rolling. Once the City successfully completes permitting, engineering, design, and environmental assessment, it will provide a new cost/benefit analysis and to FEMA for review.

This is standard procedure. The initial grant is based on ballpark estimates. With the actual design in hand, the City can more closely estimate the costs.

Assuming FEMA approves renewed cost/benefit analysis, the State will release the additional funds to the City for construction (phase II).

Three-Year Project

The City has not yet chosen an engineering company to design the gates. Nor is it clear how many gates will be added or where they will be located. All that will be part of Phase I.

Martin says the two phases together should take three years once money is received, though an extension may be possible if needed.

Other Grants Also Announced

FEMA also awarded three other grants impacting City Council District E, according to Martin:

  • Lonestar College’s Kingwood Campus won two public assistance grants for Emergency Protective Measures amounting to $6,276,131.22 and $2,502,914.79.
  • Clear Creek Independent School District won a public assistance grant for Emergency Protective Measures amounting to $1,303,060.49.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/2/2019

703 Days after Hurricane Harvey