HOUSTON (AP) — Officials in flood-prone Houston are planning to excavate a former golf course so that it can be used to hold 350 million gallons of stormwater, more than enough to fill the Astrodome.
The intention is to build 10 connected basins at the old Inwood Forest Golf Course so that it can be a key source for flood control in northwest Houston.
The city purchased the 227 acres in 2011 for $9.3 million and spent $2.5 million building the first two retention basins, the Houston Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/2lmeOvv ). Another $20 million will be spent designing and developing the eight additional basins.
“It’s fairly large in the grand scheme of things,” said Alan Black, director of engineering for the Harris County Flood Control District. “To be able to find an opportunity to create 1,000 acre-feet of storage in an area that’s completely built out is amazing.”
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Although homes in the area remain at risk of flooding, some residents want part of the golf course converted instead into recreational space.
Julie Grothues of the Inwood Forest Community Improvement Association said neighbors want the site’s golf cart paths to be converted into hike and bike trails, and tied into the Bayou Greenways trail network.
She said flood-control measures are normally designed as part of broader development plans, and not retrofitted into an established community.
Black said he’s sensitive to the concerns.
“We prefer not to take the approach of clearing everything and then building our project,” he told the newspaper. “We’ve got a plan for community outreach to talk about what we found through these initial studies and what we plan to do to achieve this volume and also meet the needs of the area from a recreational standpoint.”
Metro Houston has added more than a million people since 1992, while the amount of water-absorbing wetlands per capita has been cut in half. Paved surfaces in Harris County, which includes Houston, increased by well over 25 percent in that period.
Since 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid more than $3 billion in today’s dollars in Houston flood losses.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com