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 For those not planning to flood the Corps with questions and comments in person, there’s a somewhat-outdated online survey, as well as an online map of updates on the project’s progress.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?)
- Texas Has Thousands Of Bad Dams, Two In Houston Deemed ‘Extremely High Risk’ [Houston Public Media]
- $75 Million Repair Job To Dams Critical For Protecting Houston [Houston Public Media]
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide Addicks and Barker Construction update [USACE]
- Previously on Swamplot: Turning the Feral Hogs of Barker and Addicks Reservoirs into Pork Chops for the Needy; Last-Ditch Grand Parkway Defense Spotlights Dangerous Conditions at Addicks and Barker Dams; What Happens If You Don’t Garden the Wild
Map of Addicks and Barker Dam Construction Updates: USACE