Legislative funding authorization will address river erosion.

From the City of Sugar Land:

Sugar Land City Council recently approved a resolution for a $28 million grant application to the Texas Water Development Board to support the Brazos River Riverbank Erosion Mitigation Project.

Ongoing erosion along the river has the potential in the future to threaten 700,000 residents, businesses and critical infrastructure near the river.

“After accelerated bank erosion was observed on the Brazos River following significant flooding events in 2015, 2016 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the city of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County commissioned two studies in 2018,” said City Engineer Jessie Li. “These studies concluded that in less than 30 years, if mitigation efforts are not implemented, continuing erosion of the riverbank might cause loss of human life while threatening residences, city and county infrastructure, roads, levees, parks and hurricane evacuation routes on farm to market roads, state highways and interstate highway bridges.

“As a result of these studies, the city and the county created Project Brazos, a multi-jurisdictional effort to address the causes of riverbank erosion. Project Brazos has identified bank erosion at 13 of the most critical sites along the Brazos River in Fort Bend County. Three of these critical locations are in Sugar Land.”

Past work has been conducted to identify solutions such as an environmentally friendly longitudinal stone dike along the bank that will promote revegetation and habitat development. Studies have found that the following areas of Sugar Land are at risk during the next 30 years if mitigation efforts are not performed.

  • River bank erosion threatens the southern area of the city near the highly populated Riverstone community. This area is directly adjacent to Levee Improvement District 15, which protects over $350 million in residential properties and vital infrastructure. The $28 million Texas Water Development Board grant will be utilized to address erosion in this area.
  • River bank erosion threatens the Memorial Park, University Boulevard and Ditch H area of the city. This area is directly adjacent to Levee Improvement District 14, which protects approximately 5,000 residents and critical infrastructure and schools.  
  • Erosion at U.S. Highway 59 threatens the bridges over the Brazos River and the safe evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents from Galveston and Brazoria Counties during times of high winds and storm surge from hurricanes and tropical storms. The areas directly adjacent to U.S. Highway 59 are also in the direct path of the erosion, including Levee Improvement Districts 10, 11 and 17. 

In the 88th Legislative Session, Sugar Land’s legislative delegation — spearheaded by Senators Joan Huffman, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Lois Kolkhorst, Senate Finance Committee member, played a key role in securing $28 million through the Texas Water Development Board Grant Projects program in the state budget. This funding is dedicated to protecting the region’s economy and infrastructure.

The funding will be combined with an additional $42 million dedicated from the General Land Office for erosion projects focusing on Sugar Land Memorial Park and U.S. Highway 59 bridge improvements over the Brazos River.

“Without Senators Joan Huffman and Lois Kolkhorst’s leadership, there is no way this would have passed,” said Intergovernmental Relations Manager Rick Ramirez.  “They did an extraordinary job.  Our entire community is appreciative of their efforts. We also appreciate City Council’s support in moving forward with this grant application. The funding is essential to safeguard our community and ensures our regional economy remains strong and resilient.”

The Texas Water Development Board is expected to consider the grant application, and upon approval, the $28 million grant will become available for the Brazos River Riverbank Erosion Mitigation Project.


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