Texas State Flood Planning Moves Nearer to Completion

Hurricane Harvey flooding in Houston

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is closing in on completing the first state flood plan for Texas. In January, the first set of regional plans were delivered on schedule to the TWDB. Now, in one of the final steps before the plan is complete, today, April 14, is the deadline for public comment on ranking the recommended flood mitigation projects in the state flood plan. Freese and Nichols, Stormwater, is providing feedback on the ranking criteria.

“Because Freese and Nichols has been involved in the development of so many regional flood plans, we have a good working knowledge of the studies and projects being ranked and the data behind them,” said Freese and Nichols Program Manager Morgan White, Stormwater, Austin. “We appreciate the opportunity the TWDB has given us to provide feedback on these ranking methods and are coordinating across Freese and Nichols wide knowledge base and geographies to provide meaningful input.”

Freese and Nichols is one of a handful of technical consultants in the state that is pioneering the flood planning process. Our team is serving as a prime or subconsultant on 12 of the state’s 15 planning regions, representing more than 25 million Texans – 87% of the state’s population – from the Panhandle to the Gulf.

The goal of TWDB’s ranking methods is to provide a consistent approach to be used across Texas to first systematically address the flood hazards with most population, properties, and critical facilities at risk first during a major flood event. If a future Legislature appropriates money for these projects, funding decisions will occur through a separate TWDB process, and project ranking is expected to be one of the criteria considered for funding determinations.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to take part in the development of the first regional flood plans and work with the TWDB, Regional Flood Planning Groups, and local communities as we all navigate this process for the first time,” said Engineer Maggie Puckett, Stormwater, Houston.

A tremendous amount of work, fostered by TWDB staff, has gone into this meticulous planning effort. Freese and Nichols continues to work with the TWDB towards a common goal of decreasing flood risk to life and property.

“While working on regional flood planning, I have been inspired by the level of cooperation between the numerous entities involved,” Maggie said. “The TWDB has gained buy-in from state and federal agencies, regional authorities, local communities, and the private consulting community in large part due to their transparency in process development (ex: Ranking Methods) and commitment in seeking public feedback.

A recent article published by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the latest update on the regional flood planning groups’ progress in developing their plans and outlines the next step in the process.

You can read it here: An Update on the TWDB’s Texas-Sized State and Regional Flood Planning Effort

What’s Next?

May: TWDB staff summarize feedback and modify proposed rankings

June – July 2023: TWDB staff provide updated ranking methods to TWDB Executive Administrator

July 10, 2023: The 15 Regional Flood Planning Groups submit their amended regional flood plans

April – June 2024: Draft state flood plan is posted for public feedback

September 1, 2024: TWDB combines the approved regional flood plans into a single state plan to be delivered to the Legislature

More on TWDB’s Flood Planning Process