Energy & Environment

As Harvey Repairs Continue, Bayou Partnership Considers The Future Of Houston Greenspaces

The Buffalo Bayou Partnership says Harvey shows the need for more flood-smart green spaces.


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Images from Buffalo Bayou Park, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Parkway, near downtown Houston. (Don Geraci, Houston Public Media)
Buffalo Bayou Park between Allen Parkway and Memorial Parkway is seen inundated by Harvey’s floodwaters.

A month after Harvey, there’s already talk about expanding Buffalo Bayou Park. Harvey damaged much of the park, but the group that takes care of it says the storm could be an opportunity as well.

“Everyone’s saying that this is the new norm for Houston and for really the country and the world,” said Anne Olson, President of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.

The non-profit the park saw almost 39 feet of water during Harvey and the storm destroyed hundreds of trees and damaged trails. The bayou's greenways were designed to flood, but not to withstand this size of a flood. Olson said during a typical storm, the group knows what to expect.

“We know what's going to be left on the ground afterwards, but never imagined the incredible amount of silt and sediment that's been left by this storm.”

Still, Olson said Harvey shows the need for more – and perhaps smarter – flood-designed green spaces along the bayou, which the partnership is already planning east of downtown.

“We feel that there's a lot of opportunity to use that sector of the bayou as really a model and a prototype for how you can plan in a more resilient manner,” she said.

The group hopes to finance the project – which could stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars – through public and private investment.

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