As Texas lawmakers have begun settling in for the biennial legislative session, and groups are setting agendas for what they think should be on legislators’ plates.
Both the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston County Schools Consortium have set priorities, much of which has to do with the manner in which schools are funded. Both agenda items affect most people, in some form or fashion, in the county.
On Thursday, though, another group offered a slate of recommendations about flood control.
The Texas Water Development Board provided the recommendations to lawmakers ahead of the legislative session that begins next month, according to an Associated Press report. They’re part of an updated development board flood assessment report that says coastal and river flooding are expected to cause more than $6.8 billion in property losses over the next five years.
“Due to a combination of population growth and related development, Texas can be certain that without proper planning, flood events will impact more lives and cause more damage in the future,” the report said. “This statement is just as true on the High Plains near Post as it is along Dickinson Bayou near Galveston.”
The agency is seeking a three-pronged approach: update flood mapping and modeling, establish comprehensive planning rather than piecemeal efforts, and enact policies and procedures to aid mitigation.
“Most of the thinking in the Houston area has been let’s develop the hell out of it and expand the tax base,” Larry Larson, senior policy adviser for the Association of State Floodplain Managers, said, adding that the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has largely changed that attitude.
Flood control plans have been in the minds of people along Dickinson Bayou and Clear Creek in the aftermath of Harvey. Dickinson officials are looking at three multimillion dollar drainage project proposals. And for months, Galveston County officials have been trying to find a way to work with Harris County officials on improving drainage along Clear Creek, which is also prone to flooding.
The key in the latter is that a coordinated effort is needed between the two counties.
The water development board took it a step further. It recommended a statewide coordinated effort.
There often is the perception that flooding primarily is a Gulf Coast problem. But as we saw in October, the Hill County saw its share of floodwaters.
We think one sentence out of the report, too, summed it up.
“Despite 50 years of concerted effort and extensive participation by Texas communities, we find ourselves repairing and rebuilding instead of planning and preventing,” the board said in the report.
• Dave Mathews