After $1B spent on flood control projects, why we may not know if they're working

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Will billions spent to mitigate flooding in Houston area really help?
After more than $1 billion have been spent to mitigate flooding, it's unclear if the projects will work without a serious rainfall event in Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly six years after Hurricane Harvey, more than $1 billion have been spent on a voter-approved bond to mitigate flooding, but without a significant rainfall event in more than two years, it's unclear if the projects will make a difference.

To minimize future flooding impacts, a number of projects are underway across Harris County. The flood control district said the completed work has helped reduce flooding to thousands of homes.

A member of the Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force told ABC13 the projects haven't been put to the test. ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog said southeast Texas hasn't had a major rain event in two and half years.

"A big test is if you're going to get over a foot of rain in just a short period of time, six hours or less," Herzog explained, "that would definitely put a test to any creek or bayou or any drainage project."

Here's what voters approved: $5 billion in flood mitigation projects.

RELATED: Harris County will receive $750 million after all to go toward preventing flooding after Harvey

Harris County is finding itself in a use or lose it situation when it comes to Hurricane Harvey relief funds. Here's what to know.

Half of the money is from taxpayers. The other half is from other sources, including grants.

The county's latest update from five months ago shows it still needs to secure more than a billion dollars in other sources.

The money is going toward about 180 projects. So far, only 25 have been completed, with just six in the past two years.

Recently, the county has been focused on creating areas that can hold large amounts of stormwater. This way, instead of going into neighborhoods, the water is collected.

Although hurricane season starts soon, Herzog says these projects could help southeast Texas year-round.

"We like to say flood season begins Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31," Herzog said.

This is why the county is spending billions to mitigate flooding when rainfall events occur.

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