Earlier this week, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett told an audience at Rice University how he believes state politicians are too focused on reducing property taxes instead of instituting effective flood control measures.
Emmett spoke at an event organized by Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) center to an audience of flood experts, architects and urban planners:
“Have you seen any television ads or heard any radio ads where people say: ‘The most important thing we’ve got to do is solve the flooding problem in Houston, Harris County and this region?’ No. They’re talking about border security and all kind of other things,” Emmett said.
The elected judge also criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, both fellow Republicans, for, what he described as, their focus on reducing property taxes at a time when those potentially earned revenues could be applied toward flood control projects.
The judge also called on the special utility districts, which provide water and sewer services to unincorporated areas of Harris County, to handle some flood control tasks, such as infrastructure maintenance reportedly costing the county millions of dollars a year.
He additionally called for further cooperation between city, county, municipal and state agencies to work together on flood control issues:
“Somehow, we’ve got to get every governmental entity in the whole region working together,” Emmett said.
The Harris County official reminded voters, like his judge position, the board members of the utility districts are elected, so voters could choose between candidates who present the best plans for flood control, which he called the region’s “most important issue.”
Another speaker at the event, Rice University professor and environmental attorney Jim Blackburn, told the audience of engineers and researchers any future flood control plans must account for climate change, despite the political ramifications that discussions on the subject can cause:
“Denial of climate change is going to kill people,” he said.