Here’s your state flood plan

We have a lot of people living in flood-prone areas. That’s not going away.

More than 5 million Texans, or one in six people in the state, live or work in an area susceptible to flooding, according to a draft of the state’s first-ever flood plan.

The plan by the Texas Water Development Board is an effort to reduce the risk for those people by recommending solutions to harden Texas against floods and rising sea levels. The board was required to create the plan in a 2019 state law passed in response to Hurricane Harvey.

The public can make comments on the plan during a May 30 meeting in Austin and have until June 17 to submit comments online.

The plan, released in early May, estimates that close to 1.3 million Texas homes are in flood-prone areas.

Sarah Kirkle, the director of policy and legislative affairs for the Texas Water Conservation Association, which represents water professionals including water districts, water authorities and groundwater conservation districts, said the plan is significant because it gives the most complete picture yet of which areas of the state are most at risk for flooding.

The plan used existing flood data to create the maps that served as a baseline, but many state regions either didn’t have flood maps, or used outdated maps.

Local water managers filled the gaps with their knowledge and the TWDB contracted flood risk modeling data company Fathom to help.

“When the plan is approved, it’s going to be a historic moment for Texas,” Kirkle said. “This will be a really critical piece in understanding the topography and where you have higher and lower elevations in order to properly plan for which parts of the state are going to be subject to the risk.”

Climate change is increasing flood risks in Texas, bringing warmer temperatures that cause more water to evaporate from the land and oceans, leading to heavier rainfall. Climate change also intensifies hurricanes and sea level rise — all of which may cause river floods to become larger and more frequent.


Cyrus Reed, conservation director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the plan is an impressive effort, but does have some limitations.

He said the modeling used for the plan to predict how often floods can occur is outdated and looks at historic climate variability as opposed to future climate variables.

“What we thought was a one in 100 chance of flood, or one in 500, they may be much more frequent than we were thinking because the climate is changing,” he said.

It’s a 267-page document, if you’re in need of a little light reading. The Trib story does a good job summarizing the effort and its challenges, so maybe read that instead. As noted you have until June 17 to submit a comment. The final doc will be presented to the Lege in September.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in The great state of Texas and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.