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.


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."

Donation Drive for Communities Impacted by Harvey

The Fort Bend Recovers Donations Warehouse is now accepting “like new” or “gently used” furniture and household accessories for those in our community impacted by Harvey. 

Donations can be dropped off at: 
Tractor Supply Co (TSC) 
1400 FM 2218
Richmond, TX 77469 

Normal Hours
Tue & Thur: 10:00 am- 6:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am- 1:00 pm 

Holiday Hours: 
Dec 21 - Jan 6: by appointment only 

Call Kathy Renfrow at the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management at 281-342-6185 to schedule a time to drop off donations. 

Donations Accepted: 
“Like new” couches & chairs, bed frames/rails, dressers, night stands, dining tables & chairs, coffee/end tables, TV’s (newer models in working condition), lamps in working condition, appliances in EXCELLENT condition. 

For more information about recovery efforts underway, including the donations warehouse, visit http://FortBendRecovers.org

Update for Residents Affected by the Barker Reservoir Flooding

Fort Bend County is working with U.S. Congressman Pete Olson and U.S. Senators Cornyn and Cruz to seek additional help from FEMA for our residents impacted by Harvey, particularly those behind the Barker Reservoir.

Per County Judge Bob Hebert, the immediate actions we want to obtain are administrative or legislative remedies from FEMA to make our residents eligible for all available Federal assistance including the programs administered by FEMA. Further assistance requests are also in the works, and you can expect more Harvey recovery updates and news in the upcoming days and weeks from both legislative and administrative actions at the federal level.

To assist local residents in step-by-step actions to speed up recovery and restoration, Congressman Pete Olson's office has provided a comprehensive document available at: http://bit.ly/2xQ8zno & http://www.precinctthree.com/harvey

For now there are immediate steps that individuals can take to begin documenting and applying for recovery. You can contact any of the Congressman Olson's offices to ask for additional assistance with these resources: https://olson.house.gov/contact-us

Fort Bend County will continue to press forward with our efforts in seeking additional funds and remedies to help our community recover, and the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management continues to reach out to the community for FEMA registration assistance.

They can be contacted at 281-342-6185 or online via FBCOEM.org