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Jackson Lee: Replace Addicks And Barker Dams

The Army Corps of Engineers released water from the dams to keep them from buckling when Harvey overtopped their reservoirs. Thousands of homes downstream flooded, including many in Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s district.


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Craig LeMoult | For Houston Public Media

Controlled releases from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs flooded thousands of Houston homes during and after Harvey. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is demanding the reservoirs' aging dams be replaced. Jackson Lee called for $100 million in funding to build new flood infrastructure, including replacements for the two dams.

In a statement, the congresswoman said that one of the lessons of Harvey is that, "our infrastructure is ill-prepared for the ferocity of thousand-year weather events and record-breaking rainfall."

Arturo Leon, who teaches water resource engineering at the University of Houston, notes the old dams would have to come down before new ones could go up. And he warns that, in the interim, the city would be far more vulnerable to flooding than it is now.

"Historically," Leon says, "the construction of large dams have taken all the way from maybe one to up to five years, depending on the height and depending on the extent of the dams."

The two dams were built in the 1940s and are rated among the most unsafe in the country. Currently, there are no official plans to replace the dams, but the Army Corps of Engineers is reinforcing them.

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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