Tag Archive for: HCFCD Spending

HCFCD Spending Shows Slight Rebound

After a sharp decline in the first quarter of 2023, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) spending rebounded slightly in the second quarter. Second quarter spending did not recover to recent peaks, but at least exceeded pre-2018 Flood Bond levels.

Data obtained via FOIA Request from HCFCD on 8/14/23

One Third of Bond Money Spent in Half the Projected Time

However, HCFCD is still behind schedule with mitigation related to the 2018 flood bond. HCFCD has not issued a flood-bond update since last December. But you can calculate progress yourself by looking at the charts in this post.

Six years after Harvey and five years after the flood bond, HCFCD and its partners have spent approximately $1.6 billion to improve Harris County drainage.

Taxpayers approved $2.5 billion in the 2018 flood bond. Approximately a third of that was designated for matching funds to attract another $2.5 billion from Federal, State and local sources.

That means five years after the bond (and six years after Harvey) we are are roughly one third of the way through the bond, which was intended to be a ten-year program. And that one third is likely overstated due to inflation.

Spending Inequities

The County has not spent the money to benefit all people equally, thanks to the so-called Equity Plan approved by Commissioners Ellis, Garcia, and Judge Hidalgo. They argue that people with low incomes should enjoy a higher level of flood protection because they are less able to fix their homes after disasters.

Harris County tracks spending by watershed. Eight watersheds have a populations where Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) residents comprise a majority of the population. Those same watersheds also tend to have high social vulnerability indexes based on the CDC’s ranking criteria.

The eight LMI watersheds include:

  • Halls (72.5% LMI)
  • Hunting (67.8%)
  • Vince (64.9%)
  • Sims (60.8%)
  • Greens (59.8%)
  • Goose Creek (56.9%)
  • White Oak (51.9%)
  • Brays (51%).

HCFCD updated those LMI percentages at the end of 2022 to reflect the latest census data.

Actual Flood Damage No Longer Considered

Harris County no longer weighs damage in ranking flood-mitigation priorities.

Here’s how LMI-majority watersheds line up versus the county’s 15 other watersheds in terms of the money received since Hurricane Harvey.

Data obtained via FOIA Request from HCFCD on 8/14/23

Here’s how all watersheds ranked last quarter.

Data obtained via FOIA Request from HCFCD on 8/14/23

The San Jacinto declined a place in spending among the watersheds last quarter compared to “Since Harvey” (14th vs 13th). For the exact amounts each watershed received last quarter, see the table below.

Data obtained via FOIA Request from HCFCD on 8/14/23

Some readers might notice slight changes in the totals from past time periods. That has to do with ongoing transition of project and invoice coding in the county’s accounting systems. But they affect only about $2 million out of $1.6 billion. And most of those have to do with first quarter invoices received after my first quarter FOIA Request.

For those unfamiliar with the locations of various watersheds, see the map below.

watershed map of Harris County
From HCFCD 2019 Federal Briefing

Now compare spending to the actual flood damage during the last 44 years.

This map from MAAPnext, totals damage since 1979. Dark areas represent more damage. Compare the spending priorities above with actual damage in your watershed.

Flood control money used to flow to damage. But that’s no longer always the case.

Come back soon for more analysis of the latest data.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/15/23

2177 Days since Hurricane Harvey