Senator Perry, Lubbock, has produced an excellent Interim Report titled 2017 Hurricane Harvey Response to the 86th Legislature.

The Interim Report builds on the State Flood Assessment Report now available in draft, from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). 

Seal of the Senate of Texas

The report recommends funding the development of a State Flood Plan, with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) taking the lead on coordinating and overseeing regional flood control planning over the next five years.  It points out that

TWDB has been a leader in flood projects with local communities. As the state agency most familiar with stakeholders, TWDB will be able to manage the organization of the groups, technical assistance, and final submissions of flood control plans.”

The report notes that Texas has 23 river basins.  In each basin are “cities, towns, watersheds, districts, river authorities, and countless other groups which serve a vital role in flood control planning; therefore, it is recommended that the state undertake basin-wide flood control planning using science and mapping coupled with collaborative efforts to adequately protect property and the lives of Texas residents.”  It recommends that TWDB develop rules to ensure that input is received from the bottom up in each of these basins, with a public meeting conducted by each county, to receive input and incorporate local information into the planning process. 

The report acknowledges that nearly $200M will be needed to develop the plan over 5 years, and $604M is needed to develop accurate mapping of flood risk in every community in Texas.  It recommends that TWDB take two years to coordinate the creation of the planning groups, host stakeholder meetings, develop the rules, and receive public input. Following, another two to three years should be allowed for each planning group to complete their plans for the TWDB to compile it into a statewide plan and publish.

The report also addresses flash flooding, debris removal, earthen dam construction and repair, education, and, to prevent future damage from flooding, recognizes that Texas needs infrastructure funding for water projects like the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT). Finally, the report acknowledges that there is often an influx of federal and state funding sources after major floods, and there is a need for a centralized source for funding opportunities. TWDB is recommended to serve as the centralized source for information on “applying and tracking federal funds related to flood planning and projects. The information will be made available on the website as a tool for the public, local officials, and state leaders to follow funds and account for every available dollar.”

Wes Birdwell
Pro Bono Consulting Engineer