Major Project to Reduce Flooding

After nearly two decades of construction, the widening and deepening of the final segment of Sims Bayou is underway. The project is designed to reduce flooding along the bayou in south central Houston and Harris County. Pat Hernandez takes a look at the project.
An army of dump trucks remove mounds of dirt from a section of Sims Bayou near Croquet and South Post Oak in SW Houston. This final segment marks the beginning of the end of an 18 year, 19 mile long project by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District. This is Heather Saucier with the District.

"We have a diversion channel that was excavated, and so the water flows through that diversion channel, around this working site and then downstream."

Another view of the construction along Sims BayouAnother view of the construction along Sims Bayou

Hernandez: "This is the last part of the Sims Bayou Project that started from the design in the '80s, right?"

Saucier: "Design started back in the '80s, and construction started in the early '90s. This is one of the largest projects in the history of Harris County by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District. Not only is it exciting for us to complete such a large historical project, but think about the 35 thousand homes that will no longer be in the flood plane as a result of this project."

Mike deMasi is the on sight project engineer for the construction phase of the project. He says the cost-to-benefit ratio of any project is reviewed before the Army Corps decides to participate.

"The cost-to-benefit ratio has to be greatern than one-to-one. If the cost to build the project is say, a million dollars, it has to have at least a million dollars of benefit to the surrounding area. The Sims Bayou project actually has a really good benefit ratio of 6.5 to-one, which is really high."

There is an environmental science to keeping, and in some cases improving the lay of the land. Once again, Heather Saucier with the Harris County Flood Control District.

"We found a material called articulating concrete blocks. They look like puzzle pieces with holes in them, and literally we're putting them together along the banks of Sims Bayou. Because these pieces have large holes in them, the grass is able to grow up through these holes, and over time, maybe about a year, the grass completely masks this concrete, so that the channel appears urban, and it has all the environmental features that you would want, but at the same time, it's still fortifying the banks of the bayou so that they're less prone to erosion."

The Sims Bayou Project will cost $379 million dollars when it is completed in two years.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...