Galveston County officials have contributed about $10 million to a project to expand a detention pond in Harris County that experts hope might reduce flooding along Clear Creek in both counties.
Engineers are designing Phase 3 of the South Belt Stormwater Detention Basin project, which will eventually allow it to store up to 505 million gallons of storm water, officials with the Harris County Flood Control District said this week.
“This benefits citizens in Galveston County because the peak rainfall runoff is detained in Harris County prior to release into Clear Creek,” said Tyler Drummond, chief of staff for County Judge Mark Henry.
But, in the months since Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of Galveston County and flooded more than 20,000 homes, some local residents and officials have questioned the benefits of upstream work on Clear Creek.
League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, for instance, has asked for research about what developments upstream might do to drainage downstream.
Construction on the project, which is entering its final phase, began in 2014 with the initial excavation of a basin on a 174-acre site roughly between Scarsdale Boulevard and Dixie Farm Road on the north and south sides, and Beamer Road and Blackhawk Boulevard on the east and west sides.
The project, from its inception, was a joint venture with Galveston County contributing about $10 million, about a third of the project’s anticipated total $35 million cost, Drummond said.
Crews completed the first phase of construction in 2018 and began the second phase, which expanded the basin south and west of its initial location, in November 2016, officials said.
Clear Creek drains parts of Fort Bend, Brazoria, Harris and Galveston counties, making drainage improvements a regional effort, officials have said.
Clear Creek divides Harris and Galveston counties, but the watershed drains from both sides.
The detention basin is just one of several planned projects for the northern reaches of the creek. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also is working on a planned $295 million flood control project that could take as many as 10 years to complete.