A study proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will examine every aspect of flood control in the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The study, titled, “The Metropolitan Houston Regional Watershed Assessment,” would look at how flood waters flow through Houston’s streets and bayous down to Galveston Bay, as well as the city’s overtaxed drainage and sewer systems.
According to Edmond Russo, deputy district engineer for programs and project management for the Corps’ Galveston District, the study would examine whether Houston’s urban sprawl has had a “cumulative effect” on flooding downstream.
The study would also look at the “frequency, distribution and magnitude” of Houston’s recent rain events, such as the Memorial Day Flood of 2015 and the Tax Day Flood of 2016.
“You create a smarter plan with the regional watershed assessment,” Russo told the Houston Chronicle. “What do we want to look at 10, 15, 20 years later in terms of sustainable flood risk management?”
The funding for the three-year, $3 million Corps study would come from a proposed disaster aid bill currently in Congress.
The bill passed through the House of Representatives, but it awaits a vote in the Senate and a signature from the administration before it can go into effect.
The bill will not proceed until after Congress and the White House resolve the current government shutdown, which may end Monday evening as the House of Representatives takes up the bill advanced by the Senate Monday afternoon. President Donald Trump will have to give his final approval of the bill.
While the Corps study would examine “sustainable flood risk management,” at least one city official maintains flood prevention in Houston is not feasible. Stephen Costello, the city’s “flood czar”, was appointed by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner after the Tax Day Flood to examine ways to prevent such another disaster from occurring.
“The unique thing about Houston,” Costello said, “is we’re never going to prevent flooding. All we can do is try to mitigate for it.”