The city has come to a tentative agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a comprehensive flood control plan for the Clear Creek and Dickinson Bayou watersheds, but some leaders want other governments in the region to share in the costs.
The city council approved the agreement Tuesday, just months after empowering City Manager John Baumgartner to work toward regional drainage solutions.
Under the agreement, the city and corps would each contribute up to $250,000 to pay for the study, Baumgartner said. But by approving the measure Tuesday, the council isn’t actually committing to spending any money just yet.
“I wholeheartedly support this effort, but how did we arrive at League City paying for half?” Councilman Nick Long asked. “League City will lead, but I will eventually expect others to contribute to this as well.”
Researchers will consider different possibilities — such as detention basins, channel modifications, maintenance, bypass channels, pump stations and property buyouts, among others — for reducing flooding in the Clear Creek watershed beginning near Dixie Farm Road in Galveston County and Dickinson Bayou in the county, officials said.
The agreement is the first step in ensuring future projects meet the corps’ requirements for grant funding, city officials said. Once the corps identifies the most beneficial projects, stakeholders will have to pay for a design firm, something that will likely cost about $1.5 million, Baumgartner said.
While officials with the corps consider the different drainage solutions, Baumgartner will meet with other municipalities and local leaders in the watershed to discuss more funding, he said.
“I do think a majority of the stakeholders will pitch it,” Councilman Hank Dugie said of Long’s concerns about other entities paying. “A lot of them have smaller budgets than us, but I think the majority will pitch in, in some way or form.”
Some members of the council, along with residents, praised Baumgartner’s work in securing the cooperation with the corps, saying League City hasn’t historically had such a tight relationship with the federal entity.
“You asked John Baumgartner to lead this process and I believe it is critically important that we have the corps’ involvement from the beginning,” said David Johnson, a resident speaking in favor of the plan. “We finally have the beginning of a path — the first of many steps to come.”
Local municipalities in the past have struggled to develop consensus projects because of the fact that more than 26 different entities fall in the two watersheds, Dugie said.
Residents and local leaders in the almost two years since Hurricane Harvey stalled over Galveston County, dropping more than 50 inches of rain in some parts and flooding more than 20,000 homes, have said regional drainage solutions are key to lasting solutions, said Peggy Zahler, another League City resident.
“The biggest challenge for us moving forward is going to be consensus,” Baumgartner said. “But thus far, we’ve had a good response.”
Planning for the first stage of the agreement should take about 18 months, city officials said.