Energy & Environment

Tax Day Floodwaters Finally Drain From Houston’s Big Reservoirs

It’s taken over two months, but the last of the massive rainfall from the Tax Day Flood is flowing out of reservoirs on Houston’s west side.

The dam at Barker Reservoir in Feburary 2016
The dam at Barker Reservoir in February 2016

Back in April when a foot and a half of rain fell west of Houston, it nearly filled up both the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs that lie along the Katy Freeway at Highway 6. Since then, millions of gallons have slowly been released through dam gates into Buffalo Bayou.

Richard Long with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the dams. We talked with him Tuesday afternoon.

“Well the reservoirs are in real good condition right now. Addicks Reservoir emptied out overnight, actually, just last night, and Barker Reservoir will empty in the next couple of days. So we will be basically through with all the Tax Day floodwater and all the rains that have occurred since then,” Long said.

The dams were built in the 1940s and have been deemed “extremely high risk” because of their age and the potential for billions of dollars in damage to Houston should they fail.

A $75 million renovation was just getting started when the Tax Day flood hit. Construction stopped and it was only Tuesday that crews could access the site and resume their work.

“Over the next few weeks and months, after the reservoirs are empty, we’ll be doing a detailed inspection of the entire dam, but at this point we don’t expect to find anything glaring that would cause us any concern,“ said Long.

Long said he’s confident the reservoirs are ready for next big one, which he hopes won’t be anytime soon.

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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