The importance of a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a flood infrastructure fund cannot be overstated, Brazoria County officials say.
“There’s not a county that needs Proposition 8 more than Brazoria County,” said Joe Ripple, Brazoria County floodplain administrator.
A majority “yes” vote for Proposition 8 would create a dedicated source of money from which the Texas Water Development Board would draw from to pay for projects related to flood drainage, mitigation and control.
If Proposition 8 passes, Senate Bill 7 — which the Texas Legislature passed this past session — would go into effect. The bill authorizes the fund to be used for the development of infrastructure and flood mitigation in the state.
Projects that can be paid from the fund include planning and design activities, work to obtain regulatory approval to provide nonstructural and structural flood mitigation and drainage, and construction of structural flood mitigation and drainage infrastructure, states the joint resolution authored by Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Orange, that created the proposition.
The fund’s revenue can come from legislative appropriations, general obligation bonds, fees and other sources dedicated by the Legislature, repayments of loans, money from gifts, grants, donations, interest and other sources that the Texas Water Development Board designates for the fund, the bill states.
The bill and proposition will make a myriad of funds from different accounts more available, Ripple said.
“It’s going to be a massive undertaking, but it’s something that’s going to be very important to the future of Texas flooding with the amount of growth that’s going on,” he said.
The important part of this mitigation opportunity is it addresses statewide flooding issues, Ripple said.
One flooding issue Brazoria County has is that when other individual counties protect their residents through mitigation and drainage efforts, it pushes water somewhere else, he said. Brazoria County is at the river’s end and that continues to “put more water on us,” Ripple said.
“It’s important to have a statewide mitigation opportunity,” he said.
The Texas Water Development Board recognized the importance of this fund in Brazoria County and had a meeting in Lake Jackson, Ripple said. Since they will administer the funds, they got residents’ input about it, he said.
A representative for the board declined to comment, citing the need for the state agency to remain neutral.
County Commissioner David Linder said it is important to start looking at flooding regionally, since the county can handle the rain it gets, but the rain north of the county causes problems.
“Hopefully that will be supported. Hopefully, we can pass that because it’s something we need,” Linder said of the proposition. “It’s the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time.”
Brazoria County’s flooding issues start all the way up toward the panhandle, Linder said. It’s good that the state is recognizing regional flooding and taking a view from above to help fix it, he said.
The proposition is not just about the money, but bringing all of the entities together to focus on the issue of river flooding, from river origin down to where it enters the Gulf of Mexico, Ripple said.
“With us having the San Bernard and the Brazos, we should play a vital role in that,” he said.
In a time when residents continue to plan for hurricanes, the county’s major storm events have been caused by river flooding, Ripple said.
“It’s just a really good opportunity, and we hope the public will take a close look at it and understand the long-term ramifications of a statewide plan,” he said.
Early voting begins Oct. 21 and ends Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.