Less than a month after a local committee made recommendations about how to reduce flooding, the city council already has taken action and a citizens committee is considering a bond proposition to raise funding for some of the proposed projects.
The council late Monday passed a resolution, mostly symbolic, supporting the committee’s finding that Clear Creek is the main cause behind the city’s flooding during Hurricane Harvey, but also adopted rules requiring developers to have more detention and mitigation in new developments and approved hiring a city drainage coordinator, Councilman Steve Rockey said.
“The idea is to push the ball down the field every play a couple of yards,” Rockey said.
The drainage committee as part of its findings recommended calling for a $32 million bond proposition in November to be used for drainage projects. The council is now waiting for a second bond committee, comprised of residents, to weigh that recommendation along with what other projects, if any, might be included in a November bond referendum, Rockey said.
“In order to significantly reduce the flooding in Friendswood, all the work on Clear Creek would cost about $175 million,” Rockey said. “But, by our calculations, there are some partners that might get involved, but we’d need some of our own money. That’s where we came up with the $32 million.”
The city’s drainage committee in April told officials the most effective way to reduce flooding is by improving flow along Clear Creek by de-snagging, creating a terrace along the banks and raising the bridge at FM 2351, according to the report.
Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of the county and badly flooded many houses and businesses in August 2017.
Under the terracing method, crews would build a 200-foot terrace on both sides of the creek without straightening the channel, according to the presentation. That method alone could have reduced water levels near the FM 2351 bridge during Harvey by more than 3 feet, according to projections.
Members of the drainage committee asked for the resolution to show that the council was committed and willing to pursue projects based on the group’s findings, officials said.
After Monday’s votes, the city manager also will work on hiring a watershed coordinator, a full-time engineer to oversee future drainage and flood mitigation work, Rockey said.
The council isn’t yet sure what, exactly, a drainage coordinator would earn, but city projections show that a cost of two full-time engineers — one of which would be the drainage coordinator — would be about $200,000.
The final change the council made Monday adopted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s precipitation frequency estimate changes. Federal scientists in September changed the definition of a 100-year flood and, after Monday’s change, Friendswood will now take that into account when issuing development permits, Rockey said.
The next step after Monday’s votes will be receiving whatever the residents committee decides about a possible November bond election, possibly in June or July, Rockey said.
The council will have to make a final decision on whether or not to call for a November election by August, Rockey said.
The committee could choose to ask for more drainage money — between $60 million to $100 million — or could add extra funding for traffic or other projects, but the council will have to be cautious about overextending its debt limits, Rockey said.
“The committee will have to take a look at it, but $32 million over a 10- to 15-year period, that alone may not impact taxes all that much,” Rockey said.
The city’s yearly general fund budget hovers around $25 million, while drainage improvements could cost in the tens of millions of dollars, Mayor Mike Foreman said.
Officials are hopeful that following a similar approach to the one the city took during a 2013 bond election will have positive results, City Manager Morad Kabiri said in a previous interview with The Daily News.
Voters in 2013 approved four bond propositions totaling about $24 million to spend on several projects.