Houston's Drainage Problem: When It Rains, It Floods

As the Houston area braces for another round of storms and heavy rain this week, the City of Houston is looking at ways to improve drainage and reduce flooding. Laurie Johnson reports.
Between last Friday's downpour and another taste of the tropics in town this week, Houston's drainage issues are hard to ignore.

Mayor Annise Parker says there is a capital improvement plan in place to address flooding and drainage, but the city doesn't have the funding to provide a solution.

"We are in the process right now of a drainage study. It's something that I actually campaigned very strongly on, that we needed a comprehensive watershed by watershed analysis of drainage needs in the city. We are determined to accomplish that as rapidly as possible, but once we identify the needs and the problems then we have to figure out how we pay for those projects."

One possibility is a pay-as-you-go drainage fund, which could show up as a city charter amendment on the November ballot. A group called Renew Houston wants to require the city to create the fund, which would come from fees and property taxes.

"Citizens of Houston are desperate for a solution to keep water out of their houses. That's going to require money. We don't have it in the current budget and our current anticipated revenue, so we're going to have to figure out some other way to fund it. This is one mechanism to fund it."

The mayor says she has signed the petition to get the amendment on the ballot, but says it's not a city-led initiative. In the meantime, she says the city's drainage study will show where the worst trouble spots are so they can prioritize upcoming drainage projects.

Laurie Johnson, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...