Raveneaux and the $160 million gambit
To significantly reduce flooding along Cypress Creek we need about 25,000 acre/feet of detention. That is about 3.9 square miles of detention facilities along our 30-mile-long creek. Why, you ask? Because the creek area is “over developed” – too many roofs, streets, parking lots, too much impervious surface. Rain has no chance to soak in. Runoff to the creek is immediate which leads to immediate rise in the creek and the immediate flooding of our homes and businesses – 7 times in the last 20 years.
“Over developed” also means there are very few places along the creek to place 3.9 square miles of detention. It must be broken up and spread along the creek to be effective. Which leads us to the former, now closed, Raveneaux Country Club on Cypresswood Drive in the Champions Forest subdivision.
HCFCD purchased 27 acres, including the clubhouse, tennis courts, pool, etc. from the former owner. The local municipal district, Cypress Forest PUD, owns the ~200 acres of golf course at this location. HCFCD and the PUD are currently locked in a negotiating battle over the 200 acres. HCFCD wants to purchase the property to place part of our 3.9 miles of detention on this closed golf course. The PUD represents interests that don’t want to give up their golf, even though this location has never made money for its owners. And there are 4 other golf courses within 4 miles of this location.
It’s up to the citizens and businesses of the Cypress Creek area whether we will prosper or continue to decline because of continual flooding. After Harvey around $120 million in economic prosperity flew out of this area. It has not returned. Around 40-50,000 people lost their homes and businesses. This is not a sustainable path. If Cypress Creek citizens want to continue to live in their small enclaves and ignore their neighbors, ignore the community’s problems, we will all continue to suffer decline. We must pull together. We must be united if we are to prosper. Flooding risk can be reduced but not by ignoring it.
Along the same thought, Harris County Flood Control (HCFCD) has set aside $160 million in funds to match monies put forward by any governmental entity, ie, city, MUD, PUD, WCID, etc. These funds are immediately available, not subject to approval by the state or federal agencies, for flood mitigation, such as constructing detention. Some MUDs in our area have significant reserve funds in the bank, some on the nature of $20 million. If our area MUDs would come together to pool some of their reserves, the county would match the funding and move construction of life-saving detention ahead with alacrity – no waiting for the agonizing delay of state or federal approval.
This is a new idea which probably will meet resistance. It has not been done before. Of course, we have not flooded so often and so badly before, either. Some MUDs will protest that this is not within their remit. But drainage is part of a utility district responsibility. Others will want to spend their money on recreational opportunities. Opportunities that wash away with the next disaster and must be rebuilt. Still others want to save their money for a rainy day. Harvey was 30” of rain, but Tax Day flood was only 9-12”. Expect more frequent storms and more intense storms according to the state meteorologist.
Flood mitigation cannot and will not move forward without you, the citizen and taxpayer, supporting it. Take 5 minutes of your time to contact your MUD representatives and express your view. Your individual MUD board information is on your water bill.
Contact your county representative, Commissioner Jack Cagle, at 713-755-6444, to express your support for flood mitigation along Cypress Creek.
As one elected official told us: “…this is not an issue which makes my phone ring.” You can do something about that.
The only thing that is certain is that, without mitigation, we will continue to flood over and over. Seize the day. Make the calls.