City of Houston 2023Legislative Report

Legislative Priorities

Legislative Priorities GraphicLake Houston

The continued funding of maintenance and improvement projects is vital to address the ongoing high risk of flooding to the areas around the mouth bar of Lake Houston and downstream communities.

Post Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston was awarded a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project (HMGP) for $46.8 million to construct new gates on the Lake Houston Dam structure.

During preliminary engineering, several gate options were evaluated with the recommendation to construct Obermeyer gates on the existing Ambursen Spillway structure.

  • Due to the method required to construct the new gate improvements, specifically installation of a coffer dam on the upstream face of the 70-year-old concrete structure, it was concluded the risk of a potential dam failure was too great to implement the proposed option.  

Subsequent engineering analysis yielded a safer option, build multiple gates on the earthen embankment portion of the dam. The new 11 gate option resulted in the project cost escalating significantly. The City reached out to the Texas Legislature requesting financial assistance to cover the cost escalation gap while continuing to pull down federal dollars.

The 88th Legislature allocated an additional $50,000,000 for structural improvements to the Lake Houston Dam Spillway to directly address this increased cost.

Additionally, in 2021, the Texas Legislature, through appropriations to the Texas Water Development Board, State and Federal Assistance Programs, allocated $50,000,000 for removal of accumulated siltation and sediment deposits throughout the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston.

In the 88th Legislature, the City requested modification to the enabling legislation to provide flexibility in the use of the grant funds. The legislation was subsequently modified to include use of funds for:

(i) sediment capture pilot projects upstream of Lake Houston and
(ii) structural and nonstructural improvements for the San Jacinto and Lake Houston to convey future floodwaters.  

This legislative change will enable the City to use funds from this grant to assist in “bridging” the cost escalation gap of the new gate structure.