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The TWDB visits Harris County Posted on January 08, 2024


Michael Turco – General Manager, Harris-Galveston Subsidence District

Subsidence is a lowering of the land surface elevation. So, in our area, because we're coastal and relatively flat, any small changes in land surface, and particularly with the dropping, can have a big impact on flooding in our area. Our mission is to prevent subsidence. And the challenging thing with subsidence that we have is it's caused by compaction in the aquifer. And once that compaction occurs, we can't ever undo that. So we want to get out in front of it. We've had an area in the Houston area that subsided upwards of almost 12 feet. But right now, we've been able to arrest that with the reduction of groundwater use and moving on to alternative sources. We're going through that process right now in other parts of Harris County, in northern and western parts of Harris County. And those are the areas that are actively subsiding today.

We're excited to have the Water Development Board staff here to show them about the successes that we've had in regulating groundwater and preventing subsidence in parts of the district. And as we move forward with conversion in the northern and western parts of our district, how incredibly important it is to continue that collaboration, to continue that development of that infrastructure so that we can reduce the reliance on groundwater and prevent subsidence in those areas.

Dr. Tina Petersen – Executive Director, Harris County Flood Control District 

The work that we do is really aimed at first identifying where are those flood challenges, where is flooding occurring that's impacting people, and then identifying solutions.

Another big challenge that we have is finding the funding to do this work because the magnitude of the challenges that we have is very significant. And in order for us to do this work, it takes a lot of money and a lot of commitment, and a lot of partnerships. 

We were really, really grateful for the opportunity to first, you know, host the Water Development Board at our facility and then welcome Director Stepney and take her around and show her some of the projects that the flood control district is implementing. I think what is really important about this visit is we know that the Water Development Board recently took on flood planning as a responsibility in the last several years, and we really welcome the opportunity to show the type of projects that we're building and also demonstrate one of the projects that's actually under construction right now that is being funded by the Water Development Board.

Samir Solanki – Chief Financial Officer, Houston Public Works

The Northeast Water Purification Plant expansion, it's one of the largest projects within the United States of America that will take our current plant—which produces about 80 million gallons of water per day and expand it to about 400 million gallons a day—that provides water to the Houston region.

The TWDB board will be able to see the enormous effort that it takes to complete a project of this magnitude. When you're here in person, it's almost like a shock and awe factor at the significant amount of effort that goes into a project like this, and looking at about 1,500 people working together for a singular purpose on getting this project completion. So absolutely, I think it's absolutely beneficial for the TWDB board to come out and see what we're actually doing.

Brooke Paup – Chairwoman, Texas Water Development Board 

You all have been incredible hosts. When we decided to start these traveling road shows about six months ago, our first stop was Harlingen, because they have very specific issues that the Board has helped with. And our second stop had to be Houston. It's been a great 24 hours. We'll get back to Austin fresh with new ideas on how to help these communities. And I just thank you for that.

This article is posted in Water Planning / Flood / Financial Assistance / Water Supply .