This article is over 5 years old

Hurricane Harvey

Houston Drainage Grid ‘So Obsolete It’s Just Unbelievable’

Experts call Houston’s “Depression-era system obsolete” — and no match for booming development in one of America’s fastest-growing cities.

Gail Delaughter | Houston Public Media
Debris in HOV lane, I-45 North of downtown, in Houston, on Aug. 28, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston has 2,500 miles of bayous and channels, more than 300 storm-water retention basins and a pair of reservoirs. It’s all designed to drain the port city during intense downpours.

But experts call the Depression-era system obsolete — and no match for booming development in one of America’s fastest-growing cities.

While scientists say nothing could have contained Harvey’s record-breaking soaking, Houston’s geography works against its drainage system.

The coastal plain is too flat to move water away quickly. The soil doesn’t hold water well. And, most of all, experts say, Houston should have built more reservoirs where it put subdivisions instead.
Rice University environmental engineering professor Phil Bedient says all that combines to make Houston America’s most flood-prone city.

Today in Houston Newsletter Signup
We're in the process of transitioning services for our Today in Houston newsletter. If you'd like to sign up now, fill out the form below and we will add you as soon as we finish the transition. **Please note** If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you do not need to sign up again. Your subscription will be migrated over.