FBC Commissioners Court Authorizes Study for a Barker Reservoir Levee

This afternoon, Fort Bend Commissioners Court voted unanimously to authorize our County Engineer to retain AECOM Technical Services, Inc. to conduct a high level study evaluating the feasibility and potential cost of enclosing the back side of the Barker Reservoir with a levee system.

As I stated today in court, I wish to thank County Judge Bob Hebert for his leadership in pursuing this agreement with AECOM. I support this study for several reasons but none greater than this - never again, should our citizens and property owners have to solely rely on the federal government and US Army Corps of Engineers for protection from the Barker Reservoir.

As Texans, God blessed us to live in a state where private property is the foundation of our laws and our way of life. It is my intent to determine through this study, how our property owners can be walled off and protected from the US Army Corps of Engineers and their operations in the Barker Reservoir.

There are 20 levee systems that guard thousands of lives and many billions of dollars in private property and infrastructure in Fort Bend County. Three years of record floods have proved those levees' worth many times over as they guarded our citizens from the floodwaters of the Brazos River and its tributaries. In this AECOM study, we will ask world-class engineers to perform the analysis and calculations of what can feasibly be done with a levee along the Barker Reservoir to protect private property from the operations of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Countless homeowners, flooding experts, and drainage district directors have approached me and other elected officials in recent months and asked the County to examine a lot of different options for flood mitigation. A number of these plans would be extremely helpful to us and I fully support the third reservoir in Cypress Creek, lowering the flood pool in the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, and the need for increased downstream conveyance along Buffalo Bayou. But the costs and the required time to construct these projects are high. And frankly, as a conservative Texan, I'm losing sleep at the idea of solely trusting the federal government to fully fix the messes they've made with the reservoirs. The people I do trust are the ones I stand beside right here in our community.

So when I'm asked how we can approach the Corps and the men who control the Barker Reservoir, to ask them for operational changes, more communication, and for ways they can protect us - I say that Katy homeowners can turn that premise on its head. Through this study, we want to examine what our community can do to protect ourselves from the US Army Corps of Engineers, and how a levee can be a centerpiece of that protection.

We have spent many months soliciting informal input about this concept with the Harris County Flood Control District, Stephen Costello of the City of Houston, numerous engineering firms, and directors and legal counsel from the Willow Fork Drainage District (AECOM also works closely with WFDD on engineering projects and design). In choosing AECOM, we partner with a firm that is ranked #1 in Engineering News Record's "Top 500 Design Firms" for eight consecutive years and has been named one of Fortune magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies" for four consecutive years.

Once the study has been completed and reviewed this summer, we will be giving you the results and analyzing next steps in partnership with the community and other government entities. AECOM has 90 days to perform the study as you can read from the official Agreement for Professional Consulting Services, which I'm making available to you here on this website. I would draw your attention to Exhibit A at the end of the PDF where you can view the Project Overview, Scope of Work, Assumptions, and compensation matrix that the County and AECOM have agreed upon.