GALVESTON, Texas (March 5, 2015) – During the year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District carefully watches and manages the water levels in the Buffalo Bayou system that run throughout Houston. Normally it is the weather that dictates how the Corps manages the watershed; but for one day each year, staff will base their decisions on one addition factor – the needs of the recreational paddlers participating in Texas’ largest canoeing and kayaking event.
“We have the dams closed and at this time storing up water,” said Natural Resources Manager Richard Long, USACE Galveston District. “We will begin releasing a controlled amount of water out of the dams tomorrow in order to provide an ideal flow for Saturday along the race course. Should Mother Nature provide sufficient flows, we will continue to hold water in order to assist in providing a safe water level for the participants.”
In its 43rd year, the Buffalo Bayou Regatta (a 15-mile American Canoe Association sanctioned event) continues to grow and gain in spectator and participant popularity. With nearly 1,000 boaters anticipated to attend, Buffalo Bayou Partnership organizers of the event take an active role in minimizing risk and promoting boater safety.
“We strive to make the race as safe and enjoyable as possible,” said Director of Public Relations and Events Trudi Smith, BBP. “We are hoping that weather cooperates again this year.”
According to Long, by managing the release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoir on the upper reaches of the Buffalo Bayou, the Corps helps make the regatta a safer and more pleasurable race that begins in San Felipe and winds its way to Sesquicentennial Park in downtown Houston.
“Without the Corps managing the flow of water, the levels would not be right for the regatta,” said Long. “During a wet year, we can manage the flow to make it safer for paddlers, and during a dry year, we give the boaters sufficient water to run the race.”
Smith agrees and says that the bayou’s water levels for the last several years have been of a concern, but with the Corps’ help the water levels on race day have been perfect.
“The Army Corps of Engineers is instrumental in helping this event succeed each year,” said Smith. “The regatta is an example that when people come together they can accomplish a lot more. The Corps’ involvement strengthens this event and also the Houston Community.”
Ultimately, the purpose of the regatta is to shine a light on the need for the continued revitalization of the Buffalo Bayou, explains Smith. Although the bayou’s environment has improved over the years, there is more to be done. It is this common concern for the bayou’s health that forms the basis of the collaboration between the Corps and BBP.
"We both have a common interest in protecting the bayou for both environmental and recreational purposes," said Long. "With our continuing commitment to assisting the groups like the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, we’ll play a part in helping to protect and revitalize precious resources."
The race is open to anyone 12 and up. A grand prize Styrofoam Cup will be awarded to the boat that collects the most trash on its journey, with proceeds of the event supporting the ongoing improvement and revitalization projects along Buffalo Bayou.
The 330-square-mile Buffalo Bayou watershed is central to the drainage of Houston and Harris County. Responding to disastrous flood during the1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District (in association with the Harris County Flood Control District), began numerous projects to reduce Houston’s flooding risks through an extensive program of reservoir construction and channel management.
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. Learn more about the regatta at http://buffalobayou.org/event/43rd-annual-regatta/.