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Harvey-Related Projects | Cypress Creek Watershed Analysis of Flooding & Storage Options

The flooding from Harvey last fall was extensive and devastating throughout Harris County and the greater Houston area.  This was especially true in the far western portion of the region, such as the Katy Prairie area, which also includes the watersheds of Addicks, Barker and Upper Cypress Creek.  Tens of thousands of homes flooded in these watersheds, and in addition, the subsequent releases from Addicks and Barker reservoirs led to further flooding of thousands of homes along Buffalo Bayou.  This flood event, as bad as it was in this area (with over 30 inches of rain), could have been far worse had it received the amount of rain that occurred in the southeastern part of the county (with over 50 inches of rain).

There is a real concern as to the potential for catastrophic flooding that would occur if either Addicks or Barker dams were to release excessive amounts of water over their uncontrolled spillways, or even worse, if they were to fail, given the amount of stress put on these dams when they fill.  In addition, there would be an even greater number of homes flooded upstream of these dams if they were to reach full capacity.  As such, there has been talk additional storage in this western area to supplement the storage capacity of these two reservoirs and help relieve some of the flooding issues that were experienced during Harvey, or have the potential to be experienced from a Harvey-type storm event in the future.

The purpose of this proposal is to investigate the hydrologic possibility of adding more storage capacity in the western portion of the Greater Houston area (i.e., upper Cypress Creek) not only to reduce the flooding potential for the Addicks & Barker watersheds, but also for the many areas downstream in Cypress Creek.  Additional storage areas in upper Cypress Creek could help mitigate flows in Buffalo Bayou, as well as Cypress Creek. Fig 1 shows the complexity of this regional watershed problem and demonstrates some of the potential storage sites being considered. 

The funding for the study is $121,000 for six months provided by the GHFMC Consortium. The team is directed by Dr. Philip Bedient, with input from Dr. Nick Fang, Dr. Andrew Juan, and L. Dunbar within the SSPEED Center. 

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