GALVESTON, Texas (Dec. 17, 2014) – The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) marked an important milestone today, joining its federal partner – the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District – in signing key agreements for major flood damage reduction projects in the White Oak and Hunting Bayou watersheds.
The Project Partnership Agreements (PPAs), under Section 211(f) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (WRDA), allows HCFCD to qualify for federal reimbursements for eligible work already completed to reduce flooding risks and damages along White Oak and Hunting bayous and to apply for reimbursements for future completed eligible design and construction work.
Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander, signed necessary documents for the agreements at the USACE Galveston District headquarters with HCFCD representatives present. Under Section 211(f), HCFCD took the lead in planning, designing, constructing and funding federal flood damage reduction projects and is eligible for federal reimbursement when the projects are complete.
The White Oak Bayou Federal Flood Damage Reduction Project includes 15.4 miles of earthen channel modifications from Cole Creek upstream to F.M. 1960, four detention basins providing approximately 2,940 acre-feet of storage and recreation features along the channel and within the detention basins. The total estimated cost of the project – many elements of which have already been constructed – is approximately $124 million, of which approximately $70 million would be eligible for federal reimbursement.
When this project is complete, HCFCD estimates that most areas along White Oak Bayou within the project area will see water surface elevation reductions of 0.5 to 1.5 feet for the 1 percent (100-year) flooding event. The number of homes and businesses subject to the 1 percent (100-year) event would drop from 6,100 to 4,600.
The Hunting Bayou Federal Flood Damage Reduction Project includes 3.8 miles of earthen channel modifications from downstream of the Englewood Railroad yard to U.S. 59, a 75-acre detention basin providing approximately 1,000 acre-feet of storage, and replacement or modification of 17 bridges. The total estimated cost of the project is approximately $165 million, of which approximately $70 million would be eligible for federal reimbursement.
When this project is complete, HCFCD estimates that it will reduce the number of homes and businesses subject to the 1 percent (100-year) flooding event from 5,100 to 650.
"We are committed to contributing to the safety, economic success and quality of life of the citizens of Houston and its neighboring communities," said Pannell. "The Corps has partnered with Harris County Flood Control District in order to carry out projects that will bring lasting benefits to those who live and work in the White Oak and Hunting Bayou watersheds."
HCFCD Director Michael D. Talbott thanked the Corps and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for their cooperation in finalizing the reports and documents necessary for the PPAs. He acknowledged Harris County's Congressional Delegation for ongoing support of federal funding for flood damage reduction projects throughout the years.
“This agreement is a testament to the strong and successful partnership between the Flood Control District and the Corps of Engineers over many years,” Talbott said. “While future federal funding for these worthwhile flood damage reduction projects is by no means assured, this agreement allows the Flood Control District to work with the Harris County Congressional Delegation and Corps to request the federal support that will keep these projects moving. This is significant because these large-scale federal projects reduce flood damages and risks for thousands of Harris County residents, and their homes and businesses.”
Section 211(f) of the federal WRDA of 1996 authorized non-federal agencies, such as HCFCD, to take the lead in major flood damage reduction planning studies and construction projects with federal funding assistance. HCFCD is eligible for the same amount of federal dollars but manages the projects with a higher degree of local control. The study process, requirements and funding for construction are the same as those for the USACE. Reimbursement for the federal share of cost is possible after approved projects are completed.
WRDA 1996 included eight demonstration projects nationwide, including three in Harris County on Brays, Hunting and White Oak bayous. In 2007, projects on Halls and Buffalo Bayou were included.
New legislation, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, repeals Section 211, except for those projects with an agreement in place by Dec. 31, 2014. The PPAs preserve the Flood Control District’s ability to qualify for federal reimbursements for the planning, design and construction of the Hunting and White Oak Bayou projects under the older WRDA 211(f) provisions.
A PPA (formerly referred to as a Project Cooperation Agreement) for the Brays Bayou Federal Flood Damage Reduction Project, also known as Project Brays, was signed in 2000 and amended in 2010. That project is under construction.
ABOUT THE HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT
The Harris County Flood Control District provides flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. With more than 1,500 bayous and creeks totaling approximately 2,500 miles in length, the HCFCD accomplishes its mission by devising flood damage reduction plans, implementing the plans and maintaining the infrastructure. To learn more about HCFCD visit www.hcfcd.org.
ABOUT USACE GALVESTON DISTRICT
The USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. The district is directly responsible for maintaining more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft as well as the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates. Its main missions include navigation, ecosystem restoration, emergency management, flood risk management and regulatory oversight.
For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.