FEMA Gives Final Approval to City's Inwood Forest Flood Mitigation Project
Detention Basin will Hold More Water than Astrodome While Providing Recreational Benefits for Houstonians
During a phone call Wednesday afternoon, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell notified Mayor Sylvester Turner that the agency had approved a significant flood mitigation project to help protect Houston from future storms. At the same time, the project will provide trails, recreation, and landscaping components that complement the detention basins.
The City of Houston has been awarded the construction phase of this project in the amount of $52.6 million for improvements to the Inwood Forest stormwater detention basins. The project aims to reduce localized flood risk following the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. This funding comes through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which provides funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments to develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities. This is one of four major Flood Mitigation Projects the City is developing pending FEMA funding.
The Inwood project will protect over 4,400 structures in the White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek watersheds. The City and county aim to build 12 floodwater detention basins to hold about 1,200 acre-feet of water (roughly 592 Olympic swimming pools, or enough water to fill the Astrodome).
"After experiencing seven federally declared disasters in seven years, flood mitigation remains a priority of my administration," said Mayor Turner. "I am grateful to Administrator Criswell for acknowledging the City of Houston's unique position and helping us to prepare for future storms by funding a project that will mitigate flooding in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods."
The City's plan includes converting the former Inwood Golf Course, located near Antoine Rd. and W. Gulf Bank Dr. in northwest Houston, near the Complete Community of Acres Homes. The City and the flood control district acquired the former golf course in 2011 as a potential flood mitigation facility.
The Inwood project total cost is $55.3 million with $2.6 million for design and $52.7 million for construction. FEMA’s contribution of $39.5 requires a 25 percent local match of $15.8 million split between the City and Harris County Flood Control. The project’s estimated completion is the First Quarter of 2025, with advertised bids anticipated as early as mid November of 2022.
At the City's request, the Houston Parks Board and its partners will incorporate a recreational component into the project to bring multiple beneficial uses to Houstonians living near the flood control infrastructure. More information on the project's recreational design can be found here.
In 2019, FEMA awarded the first set of federal grants to the City of Houston for two large-scale flood mitigation projects in areas hit by the record-high rainfall from the storm, including Lake Houston Dam, and North Canal projects.
The FEMA grant is a two-step process beginning with the funding allocation authorizing the first phase of design, permitting and environmental assessment. Once the first phase is completed, the grant recipient is required to develop a benefit to cost analysis to ensure that the project meets federal funding standards. In the second step, which happened today, FEMA authorizes the release of the funds which clears the way for construction.