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Addicks and Barker Dams

Barker Reservoir AerialMore than a half century ago, in response to devastating floods that occurred in Houston in 1929 and 1935, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Addicks and Barker Dams in what was then undeveloped areas in far west Harris and east Fort Bend counties. This undertaking was a milestone in a longstanding partnership between the Corps and the greater Houston community. 

Addicks and Barker reservoirs are located near the intersection of I-10 and State Highway 6, in an area considered to be in the upper watershed of Buffalo Bayou. They provide flood damage reduction along Buffalo Bayou downstream of the reservoirs and through the center of the City of Houston. But like much of our national infrastructure, Addicks and Barker have been around a long time. The Corps continually inspects all of its dams nationwide under its Dam Safety Program, a program that shows our commitment to protecting lives, property and the environment by ensuring that all dams are designed, constructed, operated and maintained as safely and effectively as possible. The Corps' Dam Safety Program provides a framework to ensure that both short and long term solutions are studied and applied and helps to ensure public safety for our local communities.

Dam Safety Program

Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Program LogoThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a rigorous Dam Safety Program. As part of this program, the Corps continually inspects all of its dams nationwide. This ongoing inspection and safety program demonstrates our commitment to protecting lives, property and the environment by ensuring that all of our dams are designed, constructed, operated and maintained as safely and effectively as possible.

The way we look at dam safety is changing. In the past, we looked primarily at the structural integrity of our dams as we assessed their risks to the public. Today, though, we are using a formula that combines dam safety risk and potential consequences when we make our risk status assessment. For example, if a dam protects a large metropolitan area, like Houston, with a very significant population, the consequences of any failure are much greater than that of a dam protecting farm or ranch land. The potential consequences of a dam failure affecting the Houston metropolitan area are great.

As part of the Corps’ transition to looking at dam safety risk differently, Addicks and Barker dams have undergone a recent evaluation, along with all dams nationwide.

Two structural areas of concern were identified in our evaluation of these two dams. They are:

  • the structures (or gates) in the dams that allow outflow to Buffalo Bayou, and
  • the ends of the dams

When we combined the risks associated with these two concerns with the potential consequences to the Houston metropolitan area should there be a failure, Addicks and Barker were designated as “extremely high risk.

It is important to know that Addicks and Barker dams are not in imminent danger of failing. These two dams form reservoirs that are dry much of the time. They are continuously monitored by a full-time staff to ensure their structural integrity. But, the fact that the Houston metropolitan area is the nation’s fourth largest population center is a primary concern. Any dam safety issues at Addicks and Barker could have a far greater impact due to the magnitude of people and property downstream, as opposed to other dams around the country in rural or low-population density areas.

Having our Addicks and Barker dams designated as “extremely high risk” is a big step toward increasing their safety. This designation moves them up to the front of the line for funding for repairs and studies, and all actions required for these two dams will be expedited.

Know Your Risks

Understanding and Reducing the Risk: Don’t be caught off guard. Get the facts. Know the risks. Take action to protect yourself, your family, your business, and your finances—before a weather event occurs and it’s too late. While many immediately think of strong winds when they think of hurricanes, other accompanying effects—storm surge, heavy rains, inland flooding—are equally destructive and dangerous.

*Everyone is at Risk
*Flood Facts
*Flood Risks for Communities with Dams
*Flood Risks Nationwide
*Region 6 Hurricane Fact Sheet [PDF 97K] .doc version [208.5K]

*Spanish Language Materials

Cost of Flooding

News: Construction Contract

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 31, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, awarded a contract in the amount of $71,902,340 to Granite Construction Company for construction of new outlet structures at the Addicks and Barker Dams in west Houston.

Work will consist of construction of new intake towers, steel-lined conduits, parabolic chute slabs, stilling basins, cutoff walls and downstream filters, in addition to the grouting and decommissioning of the existing outlet structures in place at both dams. There will also be an additional seepage cutoff element for Barker Dam at Noble Road located south of Briar Forest Drive.

Read more here.

Galveston District Houston Project Office
Mailing Address:
USACE Galveston District
P.O. Box 218747
Houston, TX  77218

Email: addicksandbarker@usace.army.mil 
Phone: 281-497-0740
Toll-free: 1-800-841-7786
Fax: 409-389-2389