Why Most Flood-Bond Projects Approved to Date Appear to Favor Upstream Locations
A knowledgeable reader with an engineering background looked at this morning’s post about flood-bond projects approved to date. He made an observation that, frankly, fleetingly occurred to me also. He said that the majority of the projects seem to be upstream rather than down. He also questioned the wisdom of that. Should we not start downstream and work back up? That way, he said, you don’t accelerate water rushing downstream to get caught behind a mouth bar. His fear: it could make flooding worse in downstream communities.
Official Flood Control Response
So I called Matt Zeve, the Deputy Executive Director at Harris County Flood Control. I related the reader’s concern and asked him why the commissioners approved the projects that they have.
It comes down to three things. said Zeve.
- First and foremost, Flood Control didn’t want to stop any projects that were in the works and about to kick off when the bond was passed. Flood control was already pretty far down the road with most of the projects that have been approved.
- Second, they have responded to extreme community pressure in some cases.
- Third, the availability of partner funding accelerated some projects, too. For instance, two weeks ago, the County received commitments from FEMA, City of Houston, Montgomery County and the SJRA for the San Jacinto River Basin Study. The county quickly approved its share also. The intent: to honor commitments from partners that extend County funding.
Those all sounded like valid reasons. Zeve also acknowledged that in an orderly world, he would have preferred moving from downstream to upstream. Perhaps that may happen as the priority order of bond projects becomes finalized.
Update on Rest of he Priority List
Zeve emphasized that the Flood Control District is working on a rational basis for prioritizing the remainder of the projects on the flood-bond list using criteria, such as worst-first.
But in reality, other factors like partner funding may alter the order. I have to believe that if FEMA came up with $50 million to remove the mouth bar, the dredgers would attack it tomorrow.
Zeve now estimates that the new list should be posted by end-of-day Monday. Check back. We’ll see how Rev 2.0 changes the order now that the low-to-moderate income (LMI) ranking has been removed.
Posted by Bob Rehak on March 2, 2019
550 Days since Hurricane Harvey