USACE Galveston District and Harris County Flood Control District announce additional funds, schedule extension for BBTRS

USACE Galveston District
Published Dec. 16, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District (USACE) and the Harris County Flood Control District jointly announce the approval of additional funds and a schedule extension for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study (BBTRS). The approval provides an additional $1.8 million in federal funds and extends the study for an additional 26 months, bringing the total federal funding to $7.8 million with a scheduled completion date of December 10, 2023. In addition to the federal funding, the Flood Control District will contribute technical services in support of the study, using $3.367 million in funds provided by Harris County Commissioner Precincts 3 and 4.

“We are very committed to this important, monumental project and we have heard the public’s feedback,” said Galveston District Commander Col. Tim Vail. “We continue to encourage the public to use community resources to reduce flooding and build local and regional partnerships toward resilience and recovery. At the same time, the Galveston District will continue to work toward a solution that works for the citizens of Harris County.” 

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works has approved the additional time and funds for the BBTRS following the release of an Interim Report in October 2020, substantial public comment, and extensive coordination between USACE and the Flood Control District. The additional funds and time will allow for further study of alternatives including the development of a large-diameter, deep underground tunnel alternative for consideration in the study.

The Flood Control District is the study’s non-federal sponsor. “Public input on the 2020 interim report indicated an opportunity to more closely align BBTRS with community and natural values,” said Alan Black, Interim Executive Director, Harris County Flood Control District. “We appreciate that Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle decided to make a significant financial contribution to strengthen our partnership with USACE and continue exploring the alternatives.”

The Flood Control District is in the process of completing a feasibility study of large-diameter tunnels that will advance the analysis of tunnels within BBTRS.

“From what I experienced over my 40 years of engineering we need a vision that will do more than just dig holes,” said Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey. “The concept of drainage tunnel siphons was perfected by the Romans 2,000 years ago. It’s pragmatic. Boston has the Big Dig, and this concept could give Harris County the ‘Big Drain,’ which would include not only the Buffalo Bayou tunnel, but also the Hunting and Halls tunnel system. Thank you to the Harris County Flood Control District for their hard work on this study and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for helping us find ways to make our region more resilient,” Ramsey said.

“I have said repeatedly that my top priority as commissioner is the protection of lives and property in my precinct. I am happy that the county and the Army Corps of Engineers are able to work together here in order to accomplish that priority,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “Let’s get this finished.”

USACE estimates issuing a Draft Feasibility Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comment in the fall of 2022. 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.

The Interim Report and additional pertinent information about the study can be found on the Galveston District’s website.  Individuals may sign up for study updates by sending an email to the study team at:

Galveston District Office of Publici Affairs
2000 Fort Point Road, Galveston, Texas

Release no. 21-022