Fourteen flood reduction projects in Tarrant County will be eligible for millions in state infrastructure funds after Trinity River officials finalized their regional plan in June.
The Trinity Regional Flood Planning group formed in 2020 as part of an effort to create Texas’ first statewide flood plan in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating impact on the Gulf Coast. The group’s target region encompasses the entire length of the Trinity River basin, from Dallas-Fort Worth down to Liberty County near Houston.
The inaugural state flood plan, set to be adopted in September 2024, is crucial for cities like Fort Worth and Arlington that lack local dollars to fund massive investments in stormwater infrastructure. To be eligible for grant funding from the state’s flood infrastructure fund, a flood mitigation project must be recommended by the regional planning group.
Last November, the Trinity group adopted an initial plan that recommended seven projects for future funding opportunities. All were located in North Texas, with four in Dallas County and three in Tarrant County.
Nine months later, Trinity River officials have increased the number of recommended flood mitigation projects to 56. Most are in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, with six in Arlington, four in Fort Worth, three in Westworth Village and one in Dalworthington Gardens. The estimated price tag for Tarrant County’s projects alone tallies about $293 million.
“There’s going to be more (recommended projects) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, because that’s where the vast majority of people live. That’s where the vast majority of the infrastructure is,” said Glenn Clingenpeel, the planning group’s chair and a top leader at the Trinity River Authority of Texas. “But that in no way is meant to diminish the importance of our agricultural communities and our rural communities.”
Fort Worth’s priorities identified in the plan include improving stormwater conveyance in the Lebow channel along North Main Street; constructing new storm drainage at Zoo Creek near Forest Park; and two projects providing relief to the Linwood area near West 7th, which has suffered from ongoing flooding issues over several decades.
In Arlington, two projects would focus attention on Johnson Creek, which runs 13 miles between Interstate 20 and the West Fork of the Trinity River in Grand Prairie. Another project would focus on drainage and erosion improvements near Village Creek in west Arlington. The remaining three would make flood channel improvements at Bowman Springs Road and Little Road on the city’s west side, near Lake Arlington, and an eastside neighborhood near the intersections of Arkansas Lane and New York Avenue.
If funded, the three projects in Westworth Village would replace a drainage channel along Ansley Drive and upgrade storm sewer systems along White Settlement Road and Pumphrey Drive. Dalworthington Gardens’ proposal would modify a dam at Elkins Lake to meet state environmental standards.
Each flood management proposal requires extensive studies and evaluations of potential negative impacts before it can be recommended in the plan, Clingenpeel said. Consultants spent months collecting new data to ensure that more proposals could be promoted and included in the regional plan, he said.
Flooding in Fort Worth
“There was a lot of technical work that had to happen, and a lot of coordination working with the sponsors and trying to get all that information,” Clingenpeel said. “We were very successful in that we went from seven to 56. That’s a huge increase in the number of projects we’re able to include in the plan.”
The latest version of the plan also recommends 507 flood risk studies aimed at providing up-to-date maps of 9,500-plus miles of the Trinity. Most rural communities lack detailed flood risk evaluations to help them understand the root causes of flooding and develop specific projects to reduce it, Clingeenpeel said.
“There’s a great desire to turn dirt, to build infrastructure, to make improvements that everybody can see and touch and feel and say, ‘This is going to save lives and property,’” he said. “Before you do that, before you can hit a target, you have to aim.”
Communities along the Trinity need more than $1 billion to fully fund the plan — an unlikely outcome even with a historic state budget surplus.
This spring, state legislators approved $1 billion in funding for flood prevention statewide. While $500 million of Texas’ budget surplus will go toward coastal barrier projects and the “Ike Dike” in the Houston area, $625 million has been set aside for the flood infrastructure fund.
Questions remain about how the Texas Water Development Board will administer flood infrastructure funding and what the application process will look like once the state plan is finalized next year, Clingenpeel said.
Clingenpeel sees the finalized plan as the beginning of a journey to reduce flooding in the Trinity River basin, not the end. The process is set to start all over again this fall, when Clingenpeel’s group begins the process of the next five-year plan.
“We don’t live in a static world, and nobody’s done this before in terms of these large regional flood plans, certainly not on a state level,” Clingenpeel said. “What we’ve done, I think, is build a very solid foundation of knowledge and networking that will allow us to continue to build going forward.”
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at email@example.com.
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