Houston recently learned a lesson the hard way. After years of sprawling growth, under some of the most relaxed building and zoning codes. Houston and surrounding cities are starting to experience the effect this urban expansion has caused to our watersheds. The Upper Cypress Creek, Addicks and Barker watersheds accumulated 35 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey’s slow crawl across Texas. The Addicks reservoir at peak released 7,000 CFS while Barker was at a rate of 6,300. A total combined release of 13,300 CFS all flowing into the Buffalo Bayou. This would be the first time in recorded history that the reservoirs flood gates would be opened, while downstream levels of the Bayou were already at or above flood stage.
In 2012, the release outlet conduits on both reservoirs were given an emergency fix by URETEK. Large voids were discovered beneath the channels concrete structure, putting them at a high risk of failure.
Here’s a great article from the Houston Chronicle, Sept 2016: City dams are old, beat up and a vital line of defense.
The Dallas Morning News also recently wrote a great article: READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
“In a report dated May 1996, engineers for the Harris County Flood Control District concluded the area’s reservoir system was severely insufficient and imperiled thousands of properties. The report’s authors proposed a $400 million fix: constructing a massive underground conduit that would carry water out of the reservoirs and into the Houston Ship Channel more quickly.
Had the report’s recommendations been heeded, the catastrophic flooding that struck Houston a week ago might have been greatly diminished, sparing thousands of homes from floodwaters.” – The Dallas Morning News
Vice recently filmed and produced a great documentary for their HBO series.
Thousands of Houston residents’ homes that were spared during the storm were flooded after — on purpose.
The large release of water into the Buffalo Bayou channel caused large scale flooding along it’s banks, extending out of the known mapped flood zone areas. Homes, businesses, and roadways would all face the wrath of the rising waters, long after the rain had stopped falling. Houston commuters would soon face another obstacle, hours stuck in traffic. As they tried to navigate around the deluge of closed roads. An impassable wall of water separated I-10 to 59. Making Hwy 99 and 610 Loop the only 2 major interchanges to commute around the flooded waterways path.