On Wednesday, the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released a new report and recommendations, Addressing Flood Risk: A Path Forward for Texas After Hurricane Harvey. This document expands on the findings of the 2017 Report Card for Texas’ Infrastructure, which graded flood infrastructure at a “D,” by exploring the existing landscape of flood risk management in the state and identifying measures that can be taken to better prepare the state for the next event. It comes a few days ahead of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey devastating the southeastern region of the state.
Today’s report makes a series of recommendations for a path forward for Texas to local, state, and federal decision-makers to use in improving inland flood risk management. These recommendations include a directive to the Texas Water Development Board to develop a statewide flood mitigation plan, drawing on input from all levels of government, citizens and the private sector. Additionally, the report requests additional funding for Texas’ Dam Safety Program as well as funding for a program that that assists owners with dam repair, abandonment, or removal.
The report recommends the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should develop and implement a program for inventory Texas’ levees, better educate citizens about flood risks, and employ alternative flood mitigation strategies. These include investments in green stormwater infrastructure, also known as low-impact development, and researching technologies such as green roofs, small-scale sedimentation and filtration ponds, permeable pavements, and rain gardens.
Addressing Flood Risks emphasizes that communities must take a watershed approach to flood risk management. Communities within each Texas watershed, the report notes, do not currently coordinate flood risk management regulations and infrastructure plans. As a result, upstream activities can frequently impact downstream property owners and localities. Better coordination during the planning and implementation of flood risk reduction programs and projects will help reduce flood risks for everyone within a watershed, not just those living in one community.
The Report and associated recommendations was compiled by the Texas ASCE Section Task Committee on Post-Hurricane Harvey Recommendations. The Committee was formed by members of the ASCE Houston and Southeast Texas Branches. The recommendations were released at a luncheon at the Hess Club in Houston.
The Texas Section looks forward to working with lawmakers at every level of government, as well as decision-makers and private citizens, to better address flood risk in the future. This advocacy starts with the ballot box; on August 25, Harris County residents can vote yes on Prop A, to authorize $2.5 billion in bonds for flood mitigation projects over the next 15 years.
To read the full report, visit www.TexASCE.org/FloodRisk.