HOUSTON—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District has filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register informing the public it formally plans to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Feasibility Report for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study. The EIS will assess the likely social, economic and environmental effects of a range of potential alternative plans that would reduce the risk of flooding along Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries, both upstream and downstream of Addicks and Barker dams, in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas. The EIS will also evaluate the impacts of potential alternatives that address dam safety concerns at Addicks and Barker dams.
Publication of the NOI formally begins the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and initiates a formal 30-day public scoping period, beginning on Dec. 27. This scoping period provides the public another opportunity to provide input on the range of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS in addition to comments provided during the early scoping period held in Spring 2019.
“The early scoping period was the first opportunity for us to share information with the public and get feedback on the direction of the study” said Melinda Fisher, a biologist with the Corps. “The feedback we received during the public meetings and those provided in the comments have helped us define the scope of the study and identify stakeholders’ concerns. We have been using this feedback to gather additional information and working on alternatives to add rigor and integrity to the analyses in an attempt to address many of the concerns raised. We are also actively working with stakeholders and resource agencies to assess potentially significant adverse impacts to the human and natural environment.”
During the early scoping period, the Corps and Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) hosted five public meetings between April 30 and May 9. A total of 473 people attended the public meetings held upstream of Addicks and Barker reservoirs and between the dams and downtown Houston along Buffalo Bayou. A total of 279 comment letters were submitted during the 30-day early scoping period in which the study team identified 541 substantive comments to be addressed in the Draft EIS and Feasibility Report or during study alternative development. A report summarizing all of the comments received is now available on the study website at: https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/Buffalo-Bayou-and-Tributaries-Resiliency-Study/.
Written comments may be mailed to USACE, Galveston District, Attn: BBTRS, P.O. Box 1229, Galveston, TX 77553-1229. Comments may also be submitted electronically to BBTRS@usace.army.mil. All comments must be received or postmarked by January 27, 2020.
There will be more opportunities to comment and meet with the project team. Once the Draft EIS and Feasibility Report are ready for public review (anticipated in June 2020), the Corps will publish a copy of the reports to the study website and accept comments during a 45-day comment period. News releases and public notices will be issued with information about public meetings and where to submit comments prior to the comment period beginning. Comments received during that time will be evaluated and responded to in the Final EIS. Once the Final EIS is ready (anticipated in July 2021), the Corps will publish the final documents and open up an additional review and comment period for at least 30-days.
For additional information on the study, visit the USACE Galveston website at: https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/Buffalo-Bayou-and-Tributaries-Resiliency-Study/
Release no. 19-031