Reprinted with minor edits from an article posted by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) on 9/11/2023 – Flooding is the most common and deadly disaster in the state. It has plagued Texans for generations, costing billions in property damage—and worse, loss of lives. So, flood mitigation is at the top of the list when it comes to addressing the most challenging water issues across the 269,000 square miles of Texas.
2018 NOAA Study Revealed Rainfall Assumptions Inadequate
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a study in 2018 revealing that rainfall values in some parts of Texas previously classified as 100-year events are now categorized as much more frequent 25-year events.
Varied topography and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico have always played a significant role in the state’s flood events. So has the population in Texas; it surpassed 30 million last year. according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Recent exponential growth, coupled with the already complex landscape, necessitates more forward-thinking flood planning and coordination. For instance…
Participate in Online Survey
To help address flood issues across the state, TWDB is conducting an online survey now through September 29. Purpose: to collect input on the use of nature-based solutions to mitigate flood risk. Responses will help develop a guidance manual for communities seeking to implement these projects.
Nature-based solutions are broad, ranging from detention and retention ponds to preservation of natural features, such as floodplains and wetlands, or may even include roadside ditches with nature-based components. Sometimes, projects designed to improve water quality or intended to provide other environmental benefits can also work to mitigate flooding.
“The work that we’re doing is from a lens of flood mitigation. But really, there are likely greater benefits for water quality, environmental enhancement, and even for public recreation and enjoyment,” said Saul Nuccitelli, the TWDB’s Director of Flood Science and Community Assistance. “We’re looking to try to integrate and connect those project benefits and encourage folks who are doing flood work to seek out ways to incorporate nature-based components into their projects.”
Examples of Nature-Based Solutions
Nature-based solutions often include community benefits:
- Exploration Green in Houston
- Low Impact Development San Antonio River Authority
- Telge Road Detention Basin
Nature-based solutions can often provide benefits to the community while serving as flood-mitigation strategies. The Humble-Kingwood area has numerous examples of flood-mitigation solutions that improve quality of life. For example, the 100+ mile Kingwood trail network, East End Park, Creekwood Nature Preserve, River Grove Park, and the Spring Creek Nature Trail are hugely popular community amenities that reduce flood risk.
Goal of Survey: ID Sustainable Building Blocks for Growth
The TWDB’s survey will capture examples of projects and programs using nature-based solutions with flood mitigation benefits. TWDB wants to learn about solutions in the varying ecoregions across Texas.
The goal of the guidance manual is to make practical case studies of projects, incentive program concepts, and regulatory templates available to community officials, decision-makers, and other practitioners. Many are interested in nature-based solutions as value-added alternatives to traditional flood infrastructure.
“If you find ways to incorporate nature-based solutions, it doesn’t mean people need to stay out of it all the time,” said Nuccitelli. “For example, you may have an area that’s wetland mitigation or wetland banking, so you may want to minimize how much traffic goes through it or what goes on there, but to the extent that you can include recreational activities associated with a project, urban economic benefit and utilizing nature can be somewhat synergistic.”
Reducing Runoff up to 5X
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when 10 to 20 percent of a watershed is covered by impervious surfaces like roads or parking lots, runoff doubles. If impervious surfaces cover 100 percent of a watershed, the runoff is five times that of a forested area, which significantly increases the potential for flooding.
Incorporating nature-based solutions into a new project could potentially help manage runoff from future growth. For example, identifying and preserving healthy stands of trees or wetlands to utilize those existing natural features as amenities, such as a pocket park or an area of trees next to homes.
Data Will Ultimately Help Build/Fund Community Resources
By developing a guidance manual, the TWDB aims to
1) Share data and information about the benefits of nature-based solutions that could then empower communities to adopt them
2) Provide tools, research, case studies, incentive program concepts, and example ordinances—anything that a community may use as a resource if it’s interested in pursuing these solutions
3) Share details about funding opportunities and grant applications for these types of projects.
“That would be a big success if communities could take what we’re developing within the guidance manual to further encourage or enhance nature-based solutions,” said Nuccitelli.
Once the survey responses are compiled and the guidance manual is developed, the TWDB plans to release the draft in the summer of 2024 for public input.
For More Information
See more TWDB articles about flood mitigation posted in Flood.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/13/2023 based on a TWDB article
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