Texas A&M report says big changes needed to address urban flooding

Published: Nov. 28, 2018 at 5:01 PM CST
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Researchers are calling a new report from Texas A&M University a wake up call for flood risks.

The report took two years to compile and included research from Dr. Sam Brody with Texas A&M at Galveston as well as Dr. Gerry Galloway with the University of Maryland. They said intense storms have become a national challenge and a significant source of economic loss, social disruption and housing inequality. The 44 page report outlines troubling trends they say need to be addressed sooner than later.

“The more information we can get into the marketplace, the better decisions will be made. I’m sure we will all be better off for it over the long term. Not just individuals but the entire communities," said Brody.

Their findings list several ways every community can prepare for urban flooding. They suggest things like buying out properties that are at-risk, upgrading capacity standards for water systems, and enforcing building codes. The researchers say local developers need to be more proactive with infrastructure improvements, and local governments need to think more regionally when it comes to water management.

"The solutions have to be cross boundary. It's a Navasota, Bryan, College Station. It's a Brazos Valley issue, Brazos River issue," said Brody.

"And the more A&M and College Station builds, even thinking about retention and mitigation you’re still changing runoff patterns that’s going to increase runoff downstream toward Navaota," he said.

If local flooding seems to be getting worse, it's not your imagination. Scientists believe more significant storms will happen with climate change. Urban flooding has been a major concern here at home, long before the study was released. The City of Bryan is already taking steps to address some parts of town that see routine flooding.

A new detention pond sits on the corner of the Bonham Elementary School campus. A basketball play area is designed to hold water to protect houses downstream during heavy rains.

"We had folks downstream of the roadway that had been flooded and we took the opportunity with that project to build enlarged storm sewers as well as a regional detention pond," said Paul Kaspar, Bryan City Engineer.

“We always have more need that we have budget for," said Kaspar.

He said their are also challenges with infrastructure.

"The City of Bryan is an older city. We've been around for a long time and a lot of the development that’s occurred in Bryan occurred without some mitigation strategy like these detention ponds that we have here," said Kaspar.

"So newer developments we’re looking or those but we still have a lot of development that’s occurred," said Kaspar.

They are improvements needed to prevent loss of property and lives.

"I look forward to finding out more of what their findings are in the report and seeing what we can learn to apply in our future planning efforts," said Kaspar.

The researchers also encourage property owners to consider flood insurance, even if they don't live in the flood plain and to look at ways to protect your property from flooding. They also encourage consumers use online tools to research a property for flooding problems when doing real estate transactions.

We have a link a site they've created that shows flood information in several major cities. We also have the entire 44 page report attached in the related links section of this story.