Scrutiny for Houston Development Patterns After New Stormwater Regulations
"As new development regulations in Houston attempt to offset the effects of more frequent heavy storms, some advocates and researchers say targeting the area’s urban sprawl will do more to reduce those at risk than limiting the amount of development in the city’s core," reports Emma Whalen.
The new regulations include "adjustments to flood plain boundaries, higher elevation requirements within flood plains and more significant detention requirements outside of flood plains," according to Whalen. The city has approved "25 drainage permits, many of which are subject to stricter city requirements," in and around the flood plains of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous since Hurricane Harvey, according to Whalen.
Meanwhile, development sprawl continues to sprawl beyond Houston's boundaries, raising concerns among advocates at the Bayou Preservation Association and academics at Rice University. Whalen summarizes the case for urban infill as an effective flood prevention tool:
Researchers, including Shelton, said approaching development regulations from a watershed level rather than a jurisdictional level would make it easier to manage stormwater runoff across Houston and its suburbs and would reduce the strain downstream on bayous and tributaries. This approach also calls for more dense development on existing property rather than converting open land into new subdivisions.