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Texas Water Development Board partners with federal agencies to enhance Flood Decision Support Toolbox

For immediate release. Contact: Media Relations at 512-463-5129

AUSTIN – (January 6, 2021) – A critical tool developed by federal agencies for analyzing flood risk has received important enhancements for Texas as a result of state and federal cooperation.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has partnered with the federal Interagency Flood Risk Management (InFRM) team, composed of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Weather Service, to enhance the Flood Decision Support Toolbox. The Toolbox is an interactive online application that provides maps and data regarding the possible extent of flooding and can be used for analyzing potential scenarios, flood risk assessments, damage analysis, and more.

For the first phase of site enhancements that launched , the TWDB worked closely with the USGS to incorporate building footprints on Texas maps. By adding this information, the Toolbox can now display potential damage to structures within the range of the USGS gages. This will give users the ability to estimate the economic impacts of different flood events on their communities. The TWDB has also provided building footprints outside of the current gage ranges in preparation for future mapping updates.

“This collaborative effort between state and federal agencies to consolidate complementary data into a single resource creates a powerful scenario-based planning tool for decision makers,” said Jeff Walker, Executive Administrator of the TWDB. “The TWDB is proud to provide Texas-specific data to help communities understand their local flood risks and make cost-effective mitigation decisions.”

The Flood Decision Support Toolbox provides real-time data from USGS streamgages connected with flood inundation models to interactively display a range of flood conditions at streamgage locations. The result is a dynamic tool for flood risk assessment that enables planners, emergency responders, and the public to visually understand a flood’s extent and depth over the land surface.

"USGS began collecting streamflow data in Texas in 1898 at the Colorado River in Austin, Texas, and has been cooperating with the Texas Water Development Board and other state, federal, and local agencies in providing these data to Texans for more than a century," said Tim Raines, Director of the USGS Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center. "We are pleased that this collaboration with the TWDB and our federal InFRM partners has provided enhancements to the Flood Decision Support Toolbox so that decision makers can find flood risk management information from these agencies in one place."

The site displays flood scenarios that range from minor to major flood events. New with phase one updates, users are able to save and share inundation maps with different data layers through a unique URL.

The InFRM team was formed in 2014 and launched the Flood Decision Support Toolbox in 2019.

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional water and flood planning, and preparing the state water and flood plans. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.

Map of modeled inundated (flooded) area along the Blanco River when the water surface is forecast to be 43.5 feet high at nearby USGS streamgage Blanco River at Wimberley, TX.   The map legend shows the range of floodwater inundation depths and range of water height in buildings located within the modeled flood area. Image credit: USGS

Map of modeled inundated (flooded) area along the Blanco River when the water surface is forecast to be 43.5 feet high at nearby USGS streamgage Blanco River at Wimberley, TX. This map legend shows the number of buildings located within the inundated (flooded) area and an estimate of cost of damages from floodwaters within the modeled flood area. Image credit: USGS