Sprawl Blamed For Houston’s Increasing Flooding Problem

Sprawling growth has eaten up green space that would absorb rainwater

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | December 20, 2016

While scientists say sprawling growth that has eaten up green space in the Houston area is at least partly responsible for unprecedented recent flooding, city officials largely disagree. More people die in the Houston area from floods than any other area of the country, according to a Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher. Also, more property per capita is lost in the area than in any other region and the problem is worsening, the researcher says. 

Efforts to preserve green space that would absorb rainwater could mitigate flooding—at least partially—scientists contend. City officials dismiss this theory, and are not inclined to modify zoning and building codes to address the issue.

County and city officials say recent heavy flooding is due to freak occurrences, not changing land use conditions or heavier rain storms due to a changing climate, as scientists contend. Houston’s top flood control officials say their biggest challenge is not managing rapid growth but retrofitting outdated infrastructure.

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