A flood plan to save the lives and homes of fellow Texans
What if a plan was in place to help prevent the loss of life of fellow Texans from floods?
Not just a plan, but a state-wide effort meticulously put together by the public, leaders,
and experts to develop potential strategies and corresponding solutions to become eligible
for state financial help.
The process has already begun.
No matter where you live in Texas, flooding is certain. Flooding is the No. 1 weather-related
cause of death in Texas, aka the "flash flood alley," according to
The state braces for storms from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico along with strong
frontal boundaries from the Great Plains. There's flash flooding, river flooding, tropical
storms, and hurricanes. And sometimes, the rain falls too fast for the soil to absorb it all.
Flooding kills more people than just about any weather-related hazard, according to the
National Weather Service.
So, we know it's bad. But what do we do about it? How do we protect the ones we love and
the places we call home?
Ready, set, action
Texas' 86th Legislature passed Senate Bill 8 in 2019 which established the framework for
the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to develop the first-ever State Flood Plan. This
flood plan will be modeled after the current two-decade-old state water planning process,
said Aaron Abel, Brazos River Authority water services manager. The state flood plan will
be developed based on 15 regional plans defined by watershed, which will address local
and regional flood issues.
Texas has had some pretty major flood events over the years, Abel said. Recently, a long,
state-wide drought broke in 2015 in a way that created major flooding. 2016 saw a large
share of flooding, and then Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. One series of major floods after another.
"There was just a lot of talk about what can be done to help the public and help other
entities that are involved to mitigate flooding," Abel said.
A comprehensive state flood plan derived from regional flood plans is intended to protect
against flood-related losses of life and property.
If floods are inevitable, how might we prevent loss of life and property?
The first step for the TWDB was to adopt the boundaries of each planning group.
Map courtesy of Texas Water Development Board
Click to view larger image
Breaking it down
In March 2020, 15 groups were shaped, two of which split the Brazos River watershed, which stretches
from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. The Region 7 Upper Brazos Regional Flood Planning Group focuses
on the area upstream of Possum Kingdom Lake, northwest of Fort Worth, to the Texas/New Mexico border.
The Region 8 Lower Brazos Regional Flood Planning Group focuses on the area just above Possum Kingdom
Lake all the way to the Gulf Coast.
The first-ever regional flood plans will be delivered from these 15 planning groups to the Texas Water
Development Board by Jan. 10, 2023. The TWDB will combine the regional flood plans to create the first
State Flood Plan by Sept. 1, 2024, completing the first cycle of flood planning in Texas.
"There's a lot to do in a short amount of time," Abel said.
Each regional plan will serve as a roadmap for flood planning.
Much of the success will depend on the public's involvement. The public will be invited to participate
in planning and be part of the work to reduce the risks of flooding and save lives and property in the
coming months, Abel said. This work will help assess flood risks in communities and potential mitigation
strategies, studies to evaluate flooding problems and corresponding solutions, and projects included in
the regional and state flood plans are eligible for state financial assistance, Abel said.
The BRA, whose mission is to develop and manage the water resources throughout the basin, is the planning
group sponsor for the Region 8 Lower Brazos Regional Flood Planning Group (RFPG). In essence, the BRA will
help this important planning process to ensure the success of flood planning. In addition, the BRA holds
seats on both regional flood planning groups within the Brazos River basin as efforts are also made to
ensure the future of the state's water supply, Abel said.
The groups include a wide array of people representing diverse interests, including the public,
agriculture, counties, electric generating utilities, flood districts, industries, municipalities,
river authorities, water districts, small businesses, and water utilities.
There is a large portion of the state, and the Brazos River basin, where flood-related information
and data is nonexistent, Abel said.
"Typically, the better the data, the better the science, and the better the science, the better the
policy decisions that can be made," Abel said.
"Even just in the lower Brazos, the geography and hydrology are so diverse from the upper part of
the Brazos basin. There are all these different kinds of flood impacts," Abel said.
The regional flood plans will accomplish many tasks, including:
Gathering and analyzing data to create an accurate depiction of the basin's characteristics
Identifying existing and future flood risks across the basin
Evaluating current floodplain management practices by entities within the basin (regulations to
prevent future flood problems)
Making recommendations for flood mitigation measures to address existing and future flood issues
in the basin
Participating in your community's regional flood planning group ensures the regional flood plan will
better represent your flood risk, your community's concerns, and potential mitigation solutions.
To determine which flood planning region you are geographically located in, check out this group locator. For more information, go here.