In the 1/31/2023 Harris County Commissioners Court Meeting, Commissioners voted to use another $64.8 million from the Harris County Flood Resilience Trust to keep 11 projects moving. All but one are in watersheds with a majority of low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents.
Projects Approved for Funding
Halls Bayou received:
- $600,000 for construction of a stormwater detention basin
- $1 million for channel conveyance improvements
- $11.45 million for another channel conveyance improvement project.
Halls Bayou’s population is 72.5% LMI, the highest in the county.
Sims Bayou received:
- $3 million for a stormwater detention basin and channel conveyance improvements
- $4.4 million for another stormwater detention basin project.
Sims Bayou’s population is 60.8% LMI.
Greens Bayou received:
- $2.3 million for mid-reach channel conveyance improvements
- $4.5 million for the Smith Road channel diversion project
- $1.8 for improvements to the Cutten Road Stormwater Detention Basin (Precinct 3)
- $11.3 for the next phase of the Lauder Stormwater Detention Basin
Greens Bayou’s population is 59.8% LMI.
White Oak Bayou received:
- $18 million for construction of the Inwood Forest Stormwater Detention Basin.
White Oak Bayou’s population is 51.9% LMI.
Armand Bayou received:
- $6.5 million for convenance improvements along a tributary, Horsepen Bayou.
Armand Bayou’s population is 28.4% LMI.
The lone project in Precinct 3 (Commissioner Tom Ramsey) will benefit Precincts 1 and 2 because Greens Bayou drains through those precincts.
About the Flood Resilience Trust
The Flood Resilience Trust uses Harris County Tollroad Authority money to backstop 2018 Flood Bond Projects that have come up short to date on Partnership Funding.
After these expenditures, $31.7 million will remain in the Flood Resilience Trust.
Of the $64.8 million approved for expenditure, $24.5 million will help make up for partnership funding shortages. The remainder will help make up for cost escalation.
For a full discussion of the expenditures and the Trust, see the table on the last page of this summary provided to Commissioners by the Flood Control District.
None of these Trust withdrawals benefit Spring Creek, Cypress Creek, San Jacinto, or Luce watersheds.
$750 Million In HUD Funds Not Discussed
Commissioners did not discuss the status of the long-awaited Method of Distribution (MOD) for the $750 million grant allocated to Harris County by the the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The MOD details the county’s plan to spend the money. Pre-approval is necessary to ensure the plan complies with HUD requirements. The County has known it would get the money for one year and nine months. H-GAC, which learned of a similar $488 million grant on the same day in 2021, got its MOD approved early last year.
Curiously, Harris County Community Services Department (CSD) learned it received conditional approval of a DRAFT MOD on January 25th, almost a full week before the January 31 Commissioner’s Court Meeting. Yet the approval was not on the agenda for discussion.
How Will Flood Bond Be Completed?
During the meeting, however, commissioners talked at length about a shortfall in partner funding and how to fill the gap.
Garcia fears there won’t be enough funding to do all the projects in the flood bond. But with the $750 million in HUD funds and money in the Flood Resilience Trust, the County could complete every project in the Flood Bond. That makes the County’s recommendation to shift money away from flood mitigation all the more puzzling. Flood Control would get only $325 million in CSD’s MOD. That wouldn’t even complete all the planned projects in the Halls Bayou Watershed.
Meanwhile, the San Jacinto had $223 million in planned flood bond projects. Of that amount, we have received only 13% so far while Brays Bayou has received 79% of its planned budget.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/6/2023 based on information provided by the Harris County Flood Control District
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