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January 31, 2020

Mayor Sylvester Turner is Proud to Announce the Release of the Living With Water Houston Report

Houstonian’s know that the abundance of rainwater has continuously challenged our city and has  exacerbated housing, mobility, and economic resilience challenges, among others. Now, more than ever, it is the time to transform and build forward to not only protect communities at risk, but also improve quality of life for all Houstonians.

“This report serves as a guide and a call to action, not only to City departments but to all Houstonians, to make sure that our city is ready for a future where we live with water and will thrive as a place of opportunity, equity, and resilience,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “I encourage everyone with a stake in our city to use it as a guide.”

The City of Houston partnered with The Water Institute of the Gulf, New Orleans-based architecture firm Waggonner & Ball, and the Royal Netherlands Embassy to host two Living With Water workshops in November 2018 and May 2019. These workshops were part of Houston’s resilience program, as a sponsored member of 100 Resilient Cities, now the Global Resilient Cities Network, through a $1.8 million-dollar grant from Shell.

Living With Water Houston brought together local, national, and Dutch experts representing multiple disciplines to solve site-specific water and resilience challenges alongside local governments, state and federal agencies, and community stakeholders. The Living With Water Houston report summarizes the outcomes of the workshops and provides recommendations at the regional, city, bayou, and neighborhood scales for addressing flood risk in the future.

“Houston is a big and fast-changing city, with large scale water challenges. With its economic power and positive spirit come opportunities to address these challenges, reinforce the safety of its neighborhoods and residents, and strengthen the city’s character and identity,"said David Waggonner, Principal, Waggonner & Ball Architecture / Environment. “Our team is grateful to all those who contributed to this project, and for the many innovative local ideas that grounded our work. We hope these recommendations inspire Houston’s diverse communities to embrace nature and realize the many benefits of living with water."

Living With Water Houston was undertaken as part of the Resilient Houston strategy development process. In August 2018, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner, 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, and Shell joined forces to name Houston as the 101st member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, now known as the Global Resilient Cities Network.

“In Houston and elsewhere, water brings and takes away, leavening its considerable risks with immeasurable rewards. The living with water approach and the Resilient Houston strategy should enable the Bayou City to better manage its ever-growing flood risks, re-imagine bayou neighborhoods, and lead other ‘water cities’ to a safer, more resilient future," said Dale Morris, Director of Strategic Partnerships, The Water Institute of the Gulf.

These efforts have culminated in an extensive set of strategies that will be further evaluated for implementation in three of Houston’s most vulnerable communities: Greenspoint, Independence Heights, and Kashmere Gardens. These strategies can then be applied to other neighborhoods in Houston that face similar challenges. It will require additional engagement with Houstonians to identify what their communities want.

“Implementing a living with water approach is possible by partnering with existing and future efforts, including Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Complete Communities program, the Houston Park Board’s Bayou’s 2020 program, and integration with the City’s Capital Improvement Projects. We hope that all Houstonians will act to embrace this living with water approach to increased resilience for our people, places, and systems," said Marissa Aho, Chief Resilience Officer

It is the first step forward into the implementation of an extensive Resilient Houston strategy that will set the direction towards a Houston that is equitable and prepared, providing opportunities for all.

The Mayor appreciates the participation of all local and regional experts, as well as guidance from The Netherlands, and hopes that the continued partnership brings future opportunities to collaborate on the similar issues that plague our residents.

To access the Living With Water Houston report click here

For more information please contact Chief Resilience Officer Marissa Aho