Flood Resiliency in Texas: Planning for 2020 and Beyond

Texas is ranked first in the nation in the variety and frequency of natural disasters.  When Hurricane Harvey hit two years ago, a year’s worth of rain off-loaded in the greater Houston area in less than a week.  According to the National Hurricane Center, the Category 4 storm caused $125 billion in damage and flooding forced 39,000 people out of their homes.  Even as recently as the last couple months, numerous communities across Texas have experienced severe flooding, including ones that led to presidential disaster declarations.  

A Call to Legal Action
The frequency and severity of flood events prompted the State to act.  On January 22, 2019 Texas Sen. Charles Perry, District 28, filed Senate Bill 8 to establish the state’s first comprehensive flood plan in an effort to make the state more resilient in the face of future natural disasters.  On June 13, 2019 Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into effect.  The first state flood plan will be due September 2024.  

What Happens in the Meantime? Funding and Planning Opportunities
As state and regional flood planning bills were approved, Texas has wasted no time in pushing forward. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is spearheading projects with a budget of nearly $3.3 billion. Supplied from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund and the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund, $793 million will be made available to communities with immediate needs. This subset of funding will be available by application and will be granted through low- or no- interest loans starting in 2020. 

TWDB has also been tasked with the creation of regional flood planning groups.  Regional groups will be based on corresponding river basins and will be responsible for devising flood plan frameworks.  TWDB will designate initial planning group members through an upcoming nomination process.

TWDB Requests Input
Ahead of creating regional groups and formalizing rules this fall, TWDB requests stakeholder feedback.  Through August 23, 2019 TWDB is hosting public workshops across the state and online.  Specific schedule and location details can be found here, and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

Should I Attend a Workshop?
TWDB will present on initial implementation plans and issues such as: fund administration, planning processes, and potential flood planning regional boundaries.  If you are interested in providing direct input on the creation of new state programs designed to mitigate against flood damages in Texas, consider attending a workshop.

Can’t attend?  Submit written responses to [email protected] by August 30, 2019.

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Jason Vreeland, PE
Jason Vreeland, PE
Project Manager, New Braunfels, TX

Jason is a licensed professional engineer in the States of Wyoming and Texas with extensive experience in civil engineering design and planning. He specializes in water and wastewater collection and distribution, roadway design, capital improvements funding, and hydrologic and hydraulic design.
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