GALVESTON, Texas – Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District is releasing an Interim Report for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study (BBTRS). The purpose of BBTRS is to identify, evaluate and recommend actions to address conditions that have changed flood risks around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs since their construction in the 1940s.
Hurricane Harvey and other recent flood events were catalysts of the current study. The Interim Report presents alternatives that could reduce the risk of flooding in the Buffalo Bayou, Addicks Reservoir, Barker Reservoir, and upper Cypress Creek watersheds in Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller counties, Texas. The report also evaluates alternatives for dam safety modifications to the Addicks and Barker dams.
Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) is the study’s non-federal sponsor and is a longstanding partner with USACE Galveston District on major flood damage reduction projects and studies in Harris County.
Since the public scoping meetings held in May 2019, study alternatives have evolved based on preliminary screenings of physical and economic performance. The BBTRS team used this information to advance the evaluation of several alternatives, remove some from further consideration and add other measures for more detailed consideration. To explain this updated information and present a focused array of alternatives, the Study Team added the release of an Interim Report to the study process and is providing the report now for public review and comment.
“This interim step is intended to gather public feedback before a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) is released,” said Col. Timothy Vail, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. “The Study Team prepared the Report to present preliminary findings and a focused array of alternatives considered to date that manage risk and reduce damages under existing and future conditions. The report describes evaluations to date; it does not identify a preferred alternative nor does it make any recommendations or decisions.”
The Interim Report identifies three main problems in the study area—upstream risks to life, safety and property when inflows exceed reservoir capacity, dam safety risks if a dam component were to fail during a flood, and downstream risks to life, safety and property when flows exceed channel capacity. To address each of these concerns, a number of structural and non-structural measures were considered including but not limited to: bypass channels, new reservoirs, detention ponds, tunnels, dredging of existing detention ponds and reservoirs, spillway modifications, levees/floodwalls, channel modifications, property acquisition, changes in operations, structure modifications, and prairie/wetland restoration. Eight alternatives are identified in the interim report as the focused array.
“USACE is committed to engaging with the community to find effective and implementable solutions to the complex flood challenges,” Vail said. “Public feedback on the Interim Report will inform the next level of evaluation to identify a Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP). The TSP may be a single alternative or comprised of several alternatives from the focused array under consideration.”
“We urge everyone who lives or works in the study area to take the time to download the report, attend one or more public meetings, and submit your thoughts to the Corps of Engineers via their website. This public input helps assure that community and natural values are considered as the Corps moves from an Interim Report to a Tentatively Selected Plan,” said Russ Poppe, Executive Director of the Harris County Flood Control District.
The Interim Report and additional pertinent information about the eight alternatives can be found at: https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/BBTRS/
USACE is soliciting comments on the Interim Report from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies, elected officials, Tribal Nations, and other interested parties. The public comment period begins Oct. 2, 2020, and all comments must be postmarked by Nov. 2, 2020. Written comments may be submitted by e-mail or through postal mail at the addresses provided below:
- Submit electronically to: BBTRS@usace.army.mil
- Mail to:
USACE, Galveston District, Attn: BBTRS
P.O. Box 1229
Galveston, TX 77553-1229
Due to the “Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak” issued on March 13, 2020, no in-person meetings will be held; however, the USACE will host virtual informational sharing sessions intended to provide an overview of the report and findings to date. The study website will provide the dates and times of the information sessions, as well as up-to-date access details.
Subject to the nature and volume of comments received from the public regarding the Interim Report, USACE estimates issuing a Draft Feasibility Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comment in early 2021. At that time, USACE will provide a 45-day public review period, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). USACE will notify all interested agencies, organizations, and individuals of the availability of the draft document at that time.