Commissioners Court

Fort Bend County Commissioners Vote to Authorize Lawsuit Against USACE

Fort Bend County Commissioners Voted Tuesday to Authorize a Lawsuit Against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Operation of the Barker Reservoir

Fort Bend County Drainage District joins Fort Bend County as Plaintiffs in a filing expected later this week

Houston, Texas — Fort Bend County Commissioners voted during their regular meeting Tuesday afternoon to approve a lawsuit that seeks a declaratory judgement from a Federal District Judge regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (“Corps”) operation of the Barker Reservoir. The County and the Fort Bend County Drainage District believe the Corps does not have the legal authority to inundate property the Corps does not own in its operation of the Barker Reservoir.

Together with Fort Bend County Drainage District (together “Fort Bend”), Fort Bend will allege that the Corps knowingly operated the Barker Reservoir, located on the west side of Houston, in a manner that unlawfully flooded land the Corps did not own. The Plaintiffs are seeking to compel the Corps to operate the Barker Reservoir legally and constitutionally, and are not seeking monetary damages.

According to the County, the Corps designed and constructed the Barker Reservoir to protect the City of Houston from flood damages by detaining and storing floodwaters in the Addicks & Barker Reservoirs. But, the Corps failed to acquire sufficient land to store the amount of water the Reservoirs were designed to detain. In its complaint, Fort Bend will allege that the Reservoirs’ design and modifications, combined with the Corps' standard operating procedures laid out in its Water Control Manual, made it inevitable that the limits of the Corps’ property would be exceeded, thereby flooding land for which the Corps had no property rights upstream of the Barker Reservoir, if the Reservoir reached near full capacity.

According to the Corps’ own analysis, the Corps knew about the inherent risks of its operating procedures, and knew that the possibility of litigation based on its inaction was high. As a result, the Corps’ unlawful policies caused extensive harm during Hurricane Harvey and continue to jeopardize the property rights, economic interests and welfare of Fort Bend County, the Fort Bend County Drainage District and county residents.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the inaction of the Corps, especially intentionally using land upstream it did not own to store water, was unlawful. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction that would prevent further impounding of floodwater on land it doesn’t own upstream of the Barker Reservoir.

“The County is filing suit seeking to require the Corps to follow federal law and its own rules in its operation of the Reservoir,” said Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert.

The suit will be filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by Texas law firm AL Law Group in the United States Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.

About Fort Bend County

Fort Bend County is located in Southeast Texas and is adjacent to Harris County.  Fort Bend County,  founded in 1837, has grown to be the tenth-most populous county in Texas. Fort Bend County owns property which was affected by overflow from the Hurricane Harvey floodwater that the government-owned lands within the Barker Reservoir was unable to detain.

About Fort Bend County Drainage District

The primary mission of the Fort Bend County Drainage District (FBCDD) is to maintain the drainage channels, where the District has easements, in their existing flow conditions. This is accomplished through appropriate structural repairs and vegetation control. The District also reviews plats and drainage plans of new development to be approved by Commissioners Court to assure the elimination of an adverse drainage impact on current and future residents. FBCDD owns real and personal property which was affected by overflow from the Hurricane Harvey floodwater that the government-owned lands within the Reservoirs were unable to detain.

About AL Law Group, PLLC

AL Law Group, PLLC is a state and nationally recognized litigation and administrative law firm with offices in Houston and Austin, Texas. Since its formation in 2010, Members Keith Lapeze and David Tuckfield have represented clients throughout Texas, the Gulf Coast, and the entire country in regulatory proceedings, business disputes, commercial litigation, and more.

http://fortbendcountynews.info/fort-bend-county-commissioners-voted-today-to-authorize-a-lawsuit-against-the-u-s-army-corps-of-engineers-operation-of-the-barker-reservoir/

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.

Fort Bend County Drainage District Receives $52 Million of Federal Funds for Emergency Watershed Repairs

NRCS Funding Will Repair Damages to Bayous and Creeks Damaged By Harvey

KATY, Texas — Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers is pleased to announce that the Fort Bend County Drainage District has been awarded several multi-million dollar disbursements from the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Program. These funds will be used to address construction costs and technical assistance for repairs and restoration to Precinct 3 bayous and creeks that were severely damaged from Hurricane Harvey.

The NRCS funds total over $52 million dollars, awarded between eight different damage survey reports for the following watersheds: the Cane Island Branch of Willow Creek, Willow Fork of Buffalo Bayou and Oyster Creek. This funding will cover 90 percent of the construction cost and Fort Bend County will cover the remaining 10 percent.

"In the wake of Harvey's destruction, Fort Bend County Commissioners Court and the Fort Bend County Drainage District have prioritized many miles of Precinct 3 drainage channels for repair and construction," said Commissioner Meyers. "These funds from the Emergency Watershed Program will be carefully used to maximize and leverage the work that our own departments have been undertaking over the last seven months. Indeed, we hope that we will be able to obtain additional funding from FEMA to broaden the scope of work even further to various other channels damaged by Harvey."

Fort Bend Commissioners Court voted to accept the first agreement for the Cane Island Branch damage survey report on Tuesday, April 10th. The Fort Bend County Drainage District has already obtained an engineer for the initial project and is working towards finalizing an agreement with a contractor to execute the scope of work. The Drainage District staff have been working for several months to document, apply, and respond to the NRCS program to expand the scope for erosion repair along these watersheds, and especially for Willow Fork of Buffalo Bayou, all the way to the Grand Parkway.

Commissioner Meyers stated, "I wish to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Fort Bend County Drainage District, particularly by Chief Engineer Mark Vogler and Project Coordinator Adam Wright, to get us to this point of secured funding. The amount of damage and subsequent documentation that is required to satisfy federal funding requirements is a significant challenge and they have done our residents a tremendous service through this work. I look forward to continuing to work with them in the execution of these multiple agreements with combined efforts from various county departments and my office."

February 6 FBC Commissioners Court Recap

There was a packed house and a lengthy agenda this week at Fort Bend County Commissioners Court. The court took action on a bundle of essential decisions ranging from flooding block grant funding to 2017 mobility bond engineering selections.

The agenda's first public item was the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program concerning infrastructure and housing applications for 2016 floods. One Richmond citizen stood to comment in favor of increased attention and funding for continued flooding problems from three years of historic floods.

Next, the Court moved into agendas for the county Drainage District, among other things: approving a historic site property tax exemption for the Darst Home in Richmond, a 10-year tax abatement for an economic redevelopment zone in Needville, and two additional equipment expenditures for drainage maintenance within the County.

The Court then completed consecutive agendas for several of the Fort Bend County Appraisal Districts. The purpose of these agendas were to outline the terms of the County's assistance in providing administrative support for the districts. Court also took actions to install community-requested solar-powered speed signs at locations within Cinco Ranch. These speed signs are funded through CAD funds generated from local sales and use taxes, instead of property taxes from the county's general fund.

As the Court returned to the full agenda, they approved specific items relevant to Precinct 3 constituents, including: a traffic control plan for Section 10 of Harvest Green subdivision, the reappointment of commissioners to the Board of Emergency Services District #1, and the administrative steps for the installation of solar-powered radar signs within the requested areas. The commissioners also approved several items for the Vanbrooke development north of the city of Fulshear along FM 359, including: thoroughfare plans, TxDOT participation in improvements to FM 359, and plats for subdivision roads and lots within the community.

Other noteworthy Court approved items elsewhere in the county merit inclusion for this report. In Precinct 4, Commissioner James Patterson made a special point to thank FBC Elections for their work in organizing an upcoming election of five directors for Levee Improvement District #7 in the New Territory community - an area where unbelievably destructive flooding erosion has already forced emergency repairs to the Jodie Stavinoha Bridge on the Grand Parkway. LID #7 faces further critical decisions regarding the future of their flood control system to protect property from the power of the Brazos River.

The Court also approved action for a Health & Human Services grant application to the State of Texas for the county's FY2019 Immunization Program and a Public Transportation grant application to the Federal Transit Administration for funds totaling $4,206,855 with $899,107 in local match funding, and $663,549 in transportation development credits in lieu of local match.

Finally, as is part of their regular fiduciary duties, the Court approved over two dozen purchasing items including several contracts related to the construction of Phase 2 of the FM 1093 / Westpark extension, and approved recommendations for the selections of the most highly qualified providers of engineering and surveying services for the 2017 Mobility Projects which voters passed overwhelmingly in last November's elections. The County will now enter into negotiations with these selected engineering and surveying firms to expedite construction of the voter-approved bond projects, so we can get our citizens moving!


Fort Bend Commissioners Court meets every 1st, 2nd, and 4th Tuesday of the month at 1:00pm in the historic Courthouse in Richmond, TX. All meetings are open to the public. The full agenda and video of the Court's meeting are available online from our county website. For any questions, please contact our office at 281-238-1400. The Precinct 3 Commissioners Office is located at the County Annex at 22333 Grand Corner Drive in Katy. This and more information about Precinct 3 can be found online - www.PrecinctThree.com

January 23 FBC Commissioners Court Recap

The January 23rd regular meeting of Fort Bend County Commissioners Court held several items of note for Precinct 3. As many of you know, our County Commissioners also comprise the board of the Fort Bend Drainage District and the major item on our agenda yesterday afternoon was to approve a statement of qualifications to work on accelerating the desilting of Willow Fork of Buffalo Bayou in the vicinity of Fry Road, eastward into Barker Reservoir. Fort Bend County is providing LIDAR data and cross-section drainage reports to an outside vendor who will add a greater number of trucks and daily capacity to the desilting work.

Several other items were approved by the Court, all of which will address mobility needs for residents of Precinct 3. These include:

  • Acceptance of a 45 mph speed limit for Jordan Road between FM 359 north of Fulshear, and the Waller County line.
  • Authorization to purchase a small parcel of land for Phase 2 of the FM 1093/Westpark Extension west of Spring Green / FM 723.
  • Authorization to purchase three parcels of land for the expansion of Katy Flewellen Road.
  • Finalizing contractual obligations and deadlines for the construction of Cane Island Parkway, Phase 1 between FM 1463 and I-10.
  • Finalizing one of our last contracts for engineering services on the construction of Spring Green Roundabout near Crossover Road and Katy Flewellen.

The full agenda and video of the Court's meeting are available online from our county website.

As we undertake an extremely busy year in the county, let me say again that it is truly an honor to work to serve you. My staff and I are available to you at 281-238-1400 and our office is located at the County Annex at 22333 Grand Corner Drive in Katy. Much more information about our Precinct can be found on my website - www.PrecinctThree.com

Moving forward in 2018, my staff and I will be issuing regular updates for our residents on the work of Fort Bend County Commissioners Court meetings. The Court meets every 1st, 2nd, and 4th Tuesday of the month at 1:00pm in the historic Courthouse in Richmond, TX. All meetings are open to the public.