Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) is accelerating its spending on flood mitigation projects. I compiled the chart below with data from a FOIA Request. This request parallels an earlier request at the end of the first quarter and includes spending through the end of the third quarter. In the 3.5 years since the flood bond, HCFCD has completed many preliminary studies and engineering designs. Now many projects are moving into the capital-intensive phases: Right-of-Way Acquisition and Construction.
Current Spending Rate is 8X over pre-Harvey Rate
Comparing the periods before and after Harvey, spending per month tripled. And comparing the last six months to the post-Harvey period, you can see that the pace accelerated another 2.75X. The average for the last six months is up a whopping 8X compared to the pre-Harvey period.
That’s good news.
Where/When Spending Occurred
The chart below shows where HCFCD has spent that money. It ranks watersheds by total spending. But within that, you can see tremendous variability between the pre- and post-Harvey eras. In some watersheds, such as Sims, HCFCD largely completed projects with its partners, before Harvey. In other watersheds, such as Little Cypress, you see the opposite. HCFCD accelerated spending on land acquisition as part of its Frontier Program to help prevent, rather than remediate flooding.
Four Watersheds Have Received 53% of All Spending since 2000
The flood bond prioritization framework helps shape the curve above. It gives priority to low-income, socially vulnerable neighborhoods. Those projects started first while others wait.
Thus, most of projects in low-income watersheds cluster toward the left. Likewise, with a few exceptions, more affluent watersheds tend to cluster toward the right.
In the years ahead, as HCFCD completes more projects on the left and begins more projects on the right, the slope of the curve may change.
In the meantime, however, looking at subsets of this data, reveals much about priorities. Only five watersheds out of 23 have been allocated significant dollars above the average.
If you took Cypress Creek out of that mix, four other watersheds would be at the average. And fourteen would be below it.
Additional Analysis to Follow
In the next few days, I will examine other aspects of spending and what drives it. Those other aspects will include, but are not limited to:
- Where the most damage has occurred
- Population density
- Watershed size
- Percent of low-to-moderate income residents
- Partnership funding
More news to follow.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/9/2021
1563 Days since Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.