Buffalo Bayou Community Plan
In 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued the Interim Report for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resilience Study favoring two solutions, channelizing Buffalo Bayou and constructing a reservoir on the Katy Prairie in the Cypress Creek Watershed. However, both face heavy community opposition.
Houston Stronger provided critical feedback to USACE and offered a substitute plan known as the the Buffalo Bayou Community Plan that provides a road map to achieve effective flooding solutions with community support.
The Buffalo Bayou Community Plan is formulated with the following goals:
- Use short and long-term projects to contain and convey stormwater from events similar in magnitude to Hurricane Harvey (2017).
- Contain flood waters within the boundaries of federally owned lands for Barker and Addicks.
- Add conveyance downstream of Barker and Addicks Reservoirs without channelizing Buffalo.
- Reduce flooding conditions in Buffalo Bayou watershed downstream of the reservoirs resulting from local rainfall.
- Avoid negative environmental impacts and enhance long term environmental benefits, especially in the Katy Prairie and along Buffalo Bayou as well as areas downstream and in the Houston Ship Channel.
- Have broad and prolonged community support from a diverse group of stakeholders and take advantage of various funding opportunities.
The Buffalo Bayou Community Plan is comprised of four components that aim to accomplish these goals. All require additional study.
Construct an estimated 40-foot diameter tunnel capable of conveying flood waters from Barker and Addicks Reservoirs to the Houston Ship Channel while avoiding impacts to water quality. Tunnel interceptors along IH 10 and Buffalo Bayou will significantly increase flood protection for Harvey-type events to neighborhoods north and south of the tunnel. A force main and expansion at the City of Houston’s East Water Purification Plant could create a new water source without adding additional cost to the project, and it would provide additional funding for the tunnel.
Components 2 & 3
Provide an estimated 76,000 acre-feet of compensating storage within the Barker Reservoir and a similar amount in the Addicks Reservoir to offset the loss of volume on private property. The dredge material can be used to create topography adding ecological and recreational value to these projects.
Construct more storage in the upper Addicks watershed and expand the prairie’s natural ability to absorb, slow down, and store flood waters in the upper Cypress Creek watershed.