Q&A: Houston flood control project could fortify Houston from future extreme weather events

HOUSTON – Floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey inundated hundreds of thousands of homes.

Now, nearly 10 months later, a solution may be in the works that could protect entire Houston-area neighborhoods from suffering the same fate again during a major flood event. 

What is the proposal?

In addition to spending money on building a third reservoir, U.S. Rep. John Culberson believes excavating another 10 feet out of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs would double their capacities and solve about 80 percent of the problems with the flooding people experienced downstream of Buffalo Bayou during Harvey. Culberson is encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to pursue this as a viable option to prevent future flooding. 

How much would the project cost?

Culberson believes it could be done very quickly and for less than $2 billion. 

What is happening right now to move this proposed project forward?

Culberson told KPRC Channel 2 he’s identified areas in the reservoirs that the Corps could excavate next month, but that would require executive action. Culberson said he is pushing the White House to move fast so the Corps can begin excavating in areas that don’t require environmental permits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says a study for this particular project is under consideration for funding.  At more than 25,000 acres, the reservoirs are so big that a study of this magnitude would take three years to complete.  “It would be a massive excavation effort. First we would be required to clear and grub the vegetation within the reservoirs and then we would have to start excavating material that would be specifically designed to maintain the hydrology within the reservoir to ensure we could have the proper flow. you're talking about millions of cubic yards of material that would take years to be able to remove to increase the capacity of the reservoirs,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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