May 03, 2009
Build it here, flood it there
We can argue and debate all we want about where development should occur, and what responsibilities developers and governments have to protect flood plains and abate flooding and whatnot, but at the end of the day there's a simple truth that needs to be reckoned with.
Flooding of streets and homes probably is unavoidable when rains are as intense as they were last week, said John Jacob, director of Texas A&M University's coastal watershed program.
On the other hand, Jacob said, "The more you pave over stuff, the more flooding we're going to get."
One hopes that, at least, is uncontroversial. What we plan to do about it, that's where the action is.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 03, 2009 to Elsewhere in Houston
Our house flooded last week as did my neighbor's house. One of the original residents of the neighborhood, she had been in her house since 1960 and had never flooded. Of course this comes just weeks after the city completed a brand storm drainage system "upgrade" on our street. The problem may be that they did not finish it on the street behind my house and had the drains covered with silt screens which further restricted the flow of water into the drain. Lovely.
Yes, BUT, I don't think it means development shouldn't take place. It just means we need to take flooding into account and over-engineer what we build.
It could take the form of a requirement of a maximum percentage of impermeable surface for every development.
Or more and deeper retention ponds. These are used a lot more in Florida, and I'm not sure why we don't see as many here. With a retention pond of a given area, you could probably develop land of 10-20 times that area.
Or new materials, like permeable parking lot surfaces.
Or picking up the trash to keep the drains clear. Read the comments at the Chronicle and a lot of people in West Houston noticed clogged drains on some of the flooded streets.
So it wasn't necessarily (even this time) the total runoff of the rainfall event - it was how the runoff was handled. After all, Addicks Reservoir did not even come close to capacity in this recent rainfall.
Folks who think it's OK for houses to flood are folks who don't intend on living in them and don't expect to take part in rescue operations.