Flood Control Tunnels

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has long relied on its abundance of bayous, basins, and reservoirs to control flooding across the county. In the wake of multiple, countywide flood events within the last three years, new flood control options may be on the table.

Most recently, Harris County Commissioners Court members gave approval for Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to begin exploring the feasibility of constructing underground stormwater conveyance tunnels.

“[We want] to look at the technology, the engineering, the soils we have in Harris County to see if this is a technique that we could consider as another proverbial tool in the toolbox,” said Russ Poppe, HCFCD executive director, during a March 27 Commissioners Court meeting.

The study will look at potential tunnel locations, project costs, and soil conditions to evaluate whether underground stormwater conveyance tunnels are a feasible flood control project. Most importantly, the study will look at whether the technology exists to build tunnels that fit Harris County’s unique soil conditions, elevation, and topography.

Tunnels could run 100 to 200 feet below transportation corridors and have a diameter of 30 to 40 feet. Poppe said the technology has already been used in Austin and Europe.

Once negotiations wrap up, the next step is approving an agreement and funding the study.

“We’re not going to start a tunnel project tomorrow. There is a lot of legwork that needs to get done,” said Poppe.