As Fort Worth neighborhoods confront a rising number of flooding challenges, the city plans to raise its stormwater utility fees by 15% next year. 

The fee hike will generate an additional $7.7 million annually. City leaders say that amount isn’t enough to adequately address what District 9 council member Elizabeth Beck calls the “crisis level” of flash flooding in communities like Linwood and West 7th, near the Cultural District.

Rather than causing damage every couple years, intense flooding affects the Linwood neighborhood every couple weeks during rainy seasons, Beck said during an Aug. 24 budget work session. Council members must act to speed up the city’s timeline for improvements, which expects completion of Linwood’s phase one during the 2035 financial year, Beck said. 

“I have to tell folks that ‘Well, probably your home is going to flood for another 11 years,’ and that’s just not acceptable,” Beck said. “I don’t know that this is enough, and so I really would like to see something drastically different in what we’re investing in this, because we can’t wait that many years for people’s homes to flood.” 

This is the fifth time Fort Worth expects to raise its stormwater fees since the utility was created in 2006, said assistant stormwater management director Jennifer Dyke. The most recent increase went into effect in 2020. 

What flood mitigation projects are on the way?

  • Upper Lebow Channel improvements will improve eight hazardous road crossings and protect 130 structures from the 100-year flood risk, or a flood that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. There is potential for recreational opportunities near the flood basin.
  • Linwood and West 7th improvements would mitigate 100-year flood risk for 40 structures and partially mitigate flood risk for 200 structures. The project would build two major underground bypasses and outfalls. The city could also build a $155 million pump station, though that is not currently budgeted for.
  • Berry Street and McCart Avenue improvements would reduce flood depth by 2.8 feet at Berry Street and mitigate 40 structures for five-year flood risk. If the city builds to the 100-year flood risk standard, it would mitigate 50 structures. 

The average single family homeowner will see an annual increase on their water bill of $10.35, for a total annual bill of $79.35, according to city estimates. The cost is determined by the amount of acreage covered by concrete or other surfaces that can’t absorb rainfall. 

A small commercial business with an acre of cover will pay an average of $173.40 more each year for a total of $1,329.40 annually, while a medium-sized business — which has more concrete on-site — will pay $13,294 total under the new structure, according to city data. If approved by council, the new rates will go into effect in January. 

Revenue from the fee increase will be split evenly between capital infrastructure projects and maintenance. In addition to Linwood and West 7th, the large-scale flood mitigation projects will be concentrated in the Lebow Channel in Northside and the Berry Street and McCart Avenue area near TCU. The price tag to complete the first phases of each project will amount to at least $225 million. 

Stormwater staff are hoping to combine utility fee revenue with funding from tax increment finance districts, bonds and grant opportunities from federal and state governments. Several city projects are on track to be in Texas’ first statewide flood plan, making the proposals eligible for state flood infrastructure funding, according to previous Fort Worth Report coverage

City staff are excited to hear that council members see the need to designate more funding for flood mitigation, Dyke said. The 8.41 inches of rain that hit the city in 24 hours last August reinforced the risks that residents are facing, she added. 

“I totally agree we should do more, but we also have to recognize that it’s not just about these big flood mitigation projects and that our maintenance of our system is so important,” she said. 

“Our current resources aren’t enough to tackle all the needs. We’ve got growing infrastructure in terms of how our city continues to grow and develop. We’ve got more infrastructure to maintain, and we’ve got aging infrastructure.” 

What is the city’s five-year maintenance plan?

  • Adding five staff to inspect and clean culverts, along with purchasing remote controlled equipment, to reduce hazardous road flooding.
  • Hiring seven staff to plan, inspect and clean pipes ahead of CCTV operators who inspect storm drain systems. 
  • Adding a 10-person crew to maintain channels and address erosion so the channels can hold more stormwater and reduce flooding risk. 
  • Hiring two concrete pipe repair staff and equipment as the CCTV program identifies more repair needs. 
  • Adding two in-house CCTV operators and a truck to reduce expenses related to pipe inspection.

The stormwater department will dedicate significant resources to maintenance over the next five years, said assistant director Lane Zarate. Those priorities include the addition of at least 26 new staff members who will clean culverts, clean and inspect pipes and maintain channels that are struggling with erosion and sedimentation. 

“We have enough storm drain pipe underneath the city of Fort Worth to go from here to California,” Zarate said. “We are spread thin with maintaining a very large system of assets, so we have worked with the funding that we have to be as efficient as possible, but that can only go so far.” 

Dyke and her colleagues welcome the opportunity to raise the stormwater utility fee more frequently — say, once every two years rather than every four, Dyke said. Mayor Mattie Parker encouraged staff to return to council after the 2024 budget process concludes to discuss options for expediting flood projects as quickly as possible.

City officials should have done more to regulate development in higher flood risk zones like Linwood, Beck said. Now, the city is responsible for alleviating the damage and revising its building codes to make sure the same issue doesn’t happen again, she said. 

“We didn’t do our job to make sure that they were safe,” she said. “We need to look at our building codes and our standards to see what we can do to proactively require new developments to help alleviate that.”

Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at

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Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at Her coverage is made possible by a grant from the Marilyn Brachman Hoffman...