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Emmett: Tap Texas’ Rainy Day Fund To Build Third Reservoir

Judge Ed Emmett says there’s “no question” Harris County needs another reservoir, in addition to the Addicks and Barker, to protect the region against floods like the ones Harvey spawned. Preliminary estimates put the price of construction at $500 million.


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Harris County Judge Ed Emmett testifies before the Texas House Natural Resources Committee on the need for greater flood infrastructure investment in the wake of Harvey.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called on state lawmakers to tap the Rainy Day Fund to pay for construction of a third reservoir. Emmett testified in Houston before the Texas House Committee on Natural Resources. The committee is working on recommendations for how the Legislature should revamp the state's flood control infrastructure in the wake of Harvey.

Judge Emmett said the federal government would have to be responsible for strengthening the existing Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. But he said a third reservoir was necessary to protect the region from future floods. Early estimates for building such a structure come to half a billion dollars.

"[The] state of Texas is sitting on $10 billion in its Rainy Day Fund," Emmett said. "If this isn't a rainy day, I don't know what is. So, $500 million to fund a third reservoir to protect this entire region, to me, would be a good investment."

Judge Emmett said Harris County would need to partner with one of its neighboring counties to find a viable site for the third reservoir. Existing plans for such a structure would place it in the Cypress Creek watershed in northwest Harris County. But that region is much more densely populated than it was when the plans were drawn up, making that option unsafe.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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