Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled Wednesday a new initiative intended to reduce Houston's flooding woes, cleverly naming it SWAT: the Storm Water Action Team.
The SWAT team will spearhead 22 projects across Houston — two in each of its 11 districts — that will improve roadside ditches, drainage infrastructure and collapsed culverts in areas most prone to flooding. Approved by City Council Wednesday morning, it's one of the first projects spearheaded by the city's “flood czar,” Steve Costello, since his appointment to the new role after the disastrous April 2016 floods.
“I know the forecast of stormy weather causes anxiety and fear for many Houstonians,” Turner said. “There is no reason why we can't help alleviate some of those concerns. Through the SWAT program we will make practical improvements that will help improve our drainage system and reduce the possibility that water will enter homes and strand motorists.”
The projects are expected to cost $10 million, funds Turner said come primarily from a one-time city land sale, plus from excess money in the general fund. Turner said the 22 locations were chosen based on high rates of 311 calls and other data regarding the frequency of flooding.
Still, some council members, such as Brenda Stardig, expressed concern that there are plenty of additional flooding projects that may directly cause flooding in people's homes that need to be made a priority as well.
Costello and Turner assured her and others that this is only the beginning, and that SWAT is expected to continue long after the first slate of 22 projects are complete. Funding, however, is another question, given the land deal that's paying for the first projects is a one-time windfall; Costello said he expected the ongoing ReBuild Houston to fully take over SWAT in at least three years.
He said that he and his team identified more than 100 locations in need of drainage improvements — so you can bet SWAT won't be going away anytime soon.
Below is a list of all 22 locations the city will be addressing for now; reference the map above to find your district. See the full SWAT report for details on your district's projects.
-10058 Briarwild Lane
-2113 Woodvine Drive (from Long Point Road to Turquoise Lane)
-Greater Fifth Ward (various locations)
-Trinity/Houston Gardens (various locations)
-5942 Greenmont Drive
-360 Flora Street
-7300 Calais Road
-4007 Botany Lane
—2440 Albright Drive
-531 Keith Avenue
-Tanglewilde – Westmont Area
-Bellaire West Detention Pond
-614 Woodbend Lane
-1209 S. Dairy Ashford Road
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-Northside/Northline Area Roadside Ditch Project 1
-Northside/Northline Area Roadside Ditch Project 2
-Plum Creek Clean Up (Part A)
-Plum Creek Clean Up (Part B)
-9238 Tooley Drive
-11507 Bowlan Lane
-Cambridge Village Park