A Quick Update on the ‘Extremely High Risk’ Dams Protecting Downtown and Central Houston

Screen Capture of Addicks and Barker Dam Construction Updates Map

The Army Corps of Engineers is holding a public meeting amid this evening’s predicted thunderstorms to chat about the recently begun replacement work on the Addicks and Barker dams, which have each won the rare and highly distinguished label ‘extremely high risk’ through a combination of structural issues and close proximity to Houston. For those not planning to flood the Corps with questions and comments in person, there’s a somewhat-outdated online survey, as well as an online map of updates on the project’s progress. Work to replace the outlet structures of the dams began in February, and is expected to take about 4 years. 

The 2 reservoirs, spread out across 26,000 acres on either side of the Katy Fwy. near Highway 6, starred in the Sierra Club’s 2011 lawsuit over the construction of Segment E of the Grand Parkway through the reservoirs’ catchment area. The club claimed development spurred by the road could send major additional runoff to the reservoirs, increasing the chance of dam failure, which Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media reports “could do an estimated $60 billion dollars in damage to downtown Houston, to industries along the Houston Ship Channel, [and] even to the Texas Medical Center.” The judge didn’t stop construction of Segment E, but did order new studies on its potential flooding impacts.


Tonight’s meeting will be held at the Bear Creek Community Center, labeled in the map above as point “1” in the Addicks reservoir, which (like Barker) serves as parkland and recreational areas throughout most of the year when not occupied by floodwater. The reservoirs also hosts a variety of wildlife, including the invasive feral hogs that were systematically trapped by Harris County Precinct 3 last year for donation to area food banks.

The dams are 2 of more than 7,000 in Texas currently thought to pose potentially lethal risk to downstream areas. Good luck finding the others: The locations of those dams are considered useful to terrorists, and therefore protected from required disclosure under the 2003 Texas Homeland Security Act. (Sound familiar?)

Map of Addicks and Barker Dam Construction Updates: USACE

Addicks and Barker Reservoirs

7 Comment

  • The army Corp? Great. Let’s hope those fuckers learned their lessons after they let the levee break on NOLA. Doesn’t seem like they did based on this article.

  • Corp = C student engineers who couldn’t get jobs at Exxon

  • Come in my little pretties. Nothing to see here. bwahahahaha.

  • I used to live in Memorial VERY close to Buffalo Bayou. When it rained real hard ,I’d start getting concerned. The real heavy rains would drive snakes, armadillos, possums,etc. out of the watershed.

  • Here we go again. The government built these now decaying dams and now the government thinks we trust it to the job right the first time. NOT! THE ACOE says the work will take 4 years. Yeah right. Like most government projects using TAXPAYER funds it’ll be a 4 years plus “project”. We’ll hear in about 1-2 years the ACOE needs MORE $$$$ and MORE time. They NEVER get their time frames nor budgets correct.

  • I used to live in Piney Point (near the intersection of Memorial Dr @ Briar Forest Dr. Let me tell you concerned we got when the heavy rains fell . The animals: snakes, ants, armadillos,possums,rats,owls,birds,etc would all move to higher ground before/after flooding. I moved later into a building and I was on the top floor. Had enough of the high water issues living on the ground level …

  • About politics and infrastructure, I think that there are some timeless analogies to be made between our present circumstances and those of ancient Rome. New projects are a culmination of political will that represents either tyranny or successfully-herded-cats; and maintenance….pfft. Maintenance is only popular AFTER there’s been a crisis.

    I don’t endorse this pattern, but this is definitely one of those things where you’ve got to look in the mirror closely and be honest with yourself.