2X FLOOD CONTROL

Is the picture above from Allison in 2001 or Harvey in 2017.  You can’t tell as little progress in flood control has been made in the past 16 years.  The majority of the work has been in detention ponds.  The detention ponds are a very expensive solution, with little actual benefit.  In fact many of the detention ponds have been submerged below the flood waters between 2001 and 2017.  Harvey is providing a harsh lesson in what happens when we do not adequately anticipate what the forces of nature can do.  As more and more urbanization makes the water move faster and in greater volume, a fresh look needs to be applied to everything.

A second major factor in flooding in the Buffalo Bayou watershed is allowing trees to grow in the bayous and slow the flow of water down.  This protects downstream residents at the expense of upstream residents.  As a practical matter, if you wanted to know how to slow water down in bayous, you would put obstacles such as trees in the flow path.  Wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the water rather than simply slowing it down.

The way to solve Houston’s flooding is not some minor tweak like detention ponds or to start a 20 year project at billions of dollars which may be outdated by the time it is built.

The solution is to double the flow capacity of the systems in the short term.  Components of this plan are (1) put thrusters in in the bayous to double the water speed, (3) remove the trees from the bayous which are presently a good way to slow the water down, and (3) remove the trees and silt which has accumulated in Barker and Addicks Reservoirs which reduce their capacity, (4) dig the reservoirs to a flat bottom shape effectively doubling the volume from the present triangular shape and (5) change the plan to releasing the reservoir water as soon as possible in hurricane situation rather than waiting until the last minute..

Thrusters appropriately placed in the bayous will at least double the speed of the water.  Removing large sums of water continuously stops flooding.

Revetment stabilization of the banks of the bayous will stabilize the banks.  So, they will not be eroded by the faster flow.  Revetments are buried concrete blocks (e.g. 1 foot cubes) interconnected with cables which allow grass to grow on the top of them.  Installation of revetment stabilization eliminates the impeding trees and beautifies the bayous.

For more information contact bfbaugh@uh.edu.