Update on Texas’ First State Flood Plan and the Regional Flood Planning Groups
Authors: Cindy Engelhardt, PE, CFM, M.ASCE, and Stephanie Griffin, PE, CFM, F.ASCE
In February 2022, ASCE Texas Section published an article about the statewide flood planning effort. This article updates the regional flood planning groups’ progress in developing their plans.
The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 8 in 2019, which directed the creation of Texas’ first State Flood Plan. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is the state agency responsible for overseeing the plan’s development. The planning process follows a region-driven “bottom-up” approach that has been used for more than 20 years to develop Texas’ water supply plans.
The TWDB divided the state into 15 regions based on river basin boundaries. Each Regional Flood Planning Group (RFPG) is responsible for developing a plan by the legislative deadline in accordance with requirements outlined in the Texas Water Code, TDWB administrative rules, the scope of work and technical guidelines. Following these procedures ensures the scope of work is consistent across all regions, so when the regional flood plans are submitted, TWDB can combine these 15 plans to create the first State Flood Plan.
The planning process requires the RFPG meetings to adhere to the Texas Open Meetings Act by being accessible and open to the public. Local cities, towns, counties, entities with flood control authority and the public are encouraged to participate in the development plan. Most RFPGs continue to meet in a hybrid model, allowing in-person and virtual engagement in the planning effort.
Catching Up on Regional Flood Planning
Each of the 15 RFPGs has accomplished three milestones in 2022.
- Jan. 7: The Technical Memorandum was submitted, which provides a snapshot in time of each RFPG’s progress on specific subtasks associated with the first four tasks including identification of political subdivisions with flood-related authority/responsibility, previous flood studies and models, flood mitigation and floodplain management goals, a process to identify potentially feasible FMEs, FMPs and FMSs, list of potential FMEs, FMPs and FMSs, and associated geospatial database.
- March 7: RFPGs submitted an addendum to the Technical Memorandum. The addendum included existing and future flood condition risks, floodplain mapping gaps, and hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) modeling availability.
- Aug. 1: A draft of each of the 15 regional flood plans was submitted for review and comment.
The TWDB provided informal comments on the Technical Memorandum and addendum for the RFPG to consider and potentially address or incorporate in the draft regional flood plan. TWDB did not require a formal response to its comments, knowing the memos served as a snapshot intended to show progress, and the RFPGs had already moved forward to meet the fast-paced schedule.
Drafting Regional Flood Plans
The draft regional flood plans include the 10 primary tasks, additional outreach and data collection, TWDB-required maps, TWDB-required tables and additional details that an RFPG found relevant to its region.
The draft plans are available for public review and comment and can be accessed on the RFPG’s website or through the TWDB’s website. Paper copies of the plans may also be accessed at locations across each region. The TWDB website can help you find the region of interest to you. Some regions are hosting open houses across their respective areas. You can find more information about these opportunities on the region’s website.
The plans must be made available 30 days before the public meeting, during which the RFPG will receive oral and written comments. Thus, the RFPG public meetings are scheduled for late August and early September. Check your local RFPG website for details. Following the public meeting/hearing, written comments will be accepted by each RFPG for an additional 30 days.
Finalizing the First-Ever Regional Flood Plans
Each RFPG will review and address comments received following the public comment period. TWDB will also provide comments for the RFPGs to address. Comments and responses will be included in an appendix of each plan.
The RFPGs will each hold a public meeting or hearing to review the comments received, the proposed responses and any potential changes to the draft plans. The RFPGs will revise the plans, as appropriate, and approve the final plans for submittal to TWDB by Jan. 10, 2023. The final plans will be posted to the RFPG websites and made available to the public.
Amending Regional Flood Plans
As a reminder, the RFPGs are preparing their flood plans on an expedited schedule. Most regions will not have the time required to make significant changes between the current draft plans and the upcoming final plans. The TWDB recognized this scenario and has authorized an additional six months for the RFPGs to prepare amended regional flood plans.
The TWDB’s goal for the amended plans is to incorporate more projects into the plans. Each RFPG may develop its approach to incorporating more projects into its plan. Potentially feasible solutions brought forward during the review of the draft flood plans may be considered for potential inclusion in the amended plans. This additional time will move fast! Please check your RFPG website for details about upcoming opportunities to participate in the regional flood planning process. The amended plans are due by July 14, 2023. The State Flood Plan is due to the Texas Legislature on Sept. 1, 2024.
The regional flood planning effort is open for local jurisdictional and public input. If you represent a city, county or entity with flood-related responsibilities, the RFPGs want to hear from you about your needs or plans for flood-related studies and projects. The RFPGs welcome public input and involvement.
The RFPGs need your help to finalize the regional flood plans that truly represent the flood risks in their regions. The RFPGs appreciate your interest and timeliness in providing review comments on the draft plan by the deadline established by each RFPG.
Read more: article from February 2022 Preparing a Path Forward Texas’ First State Flood Plan is being Developed from the Bottom Up. Cindy Engelhardt PE, CFM, M.ASCE and Stephanie Griffin PE, CFM, F.ASCE Halff Associates, Inc.
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