Energy & Environment

Army Corps Plans To Study Improvements To Addicks And Barker Reservoirs

Improvements could include new reservoir dams, increased water capacity and changes to how residents are warned about flooding risks.

Water rushes out of the Addicks Reservoir in the days after Harvey’s historical rainfall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to find ways to improve the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, which filled to record levels and flooded nearby homes after Hurricane Harvey. A study the Corps plans to conduct would look at ways to harden the reservoirs against the next big storm.

Sheridan Willey, with the project management branch of the Corps’ Galveston district, outlined the study for a crowd of flood experts, engineers and architects at Rice University.

“It would lead to construction, possible recommendations to improve the upstream and downstream of the existing structures,” she said.

The improvements could include new reservoir dams, making the reservoirs bigger and able to hold more water, or improving the way water flows in and out. The study could also lead to changes in how the Corps operates the reservoirs, and how flood warnings get out to the public.

That’s timely, as the Houston Chronicle reported this week that as Harvey approached Houston, the Corps forecasted the reservoirs would flood nearby homes. That warning took a couple days to reach the public, and by then, homes were already taking on water.

The Addicks and Barker study, along with other regional watershed studies the Corps wants to conduct, isn’t a done deal. Willey said the projects don’t have federal funding in place, and her presentation noted that securing federal money can be challenging in a competitive budget cycle.

“For any of our Corps studies, we have to have a local sponsor to share the cost with,” Willey said. “All of those, we actually do have letters of intent [from the sponsors], we just haven’t received the appropriations.”

The Corps is also waiting on federal funding for various infrastructure projects that have been approved, including multi-million dollar improvements to flood control measures along Clear Creek, Cedar Bayou, White Oak Bayou and Hunting Bayou.


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