Texas history records numerous devastating floods along the Brazos River, particularly its lower reaches. Though the construction of a series of dams upstream eased the problem considerably, parts of the river basin continue to flood periodically.

But a new project partnering the Brazos River Authority and other state and local organizations is intended to help protect residents in the lower Brazos basin when the river leaves its banks in the future. In May, the Texas Water Development Board approved a $514,783 grant to help pay for the first phase of a flood protection planning study of the lower Brazos.

The project, also financed with matching funds from local governments and organizations, is to study flooding issues from the Grimes/ Waller county line to the Gulf of Mexico. That area’s population is booming, jumping from about 52,000 people in 1970 to an estimated 627,000 in 2013. Fort Bend County continually ranks in the top 10 of the nation’s fastest growing counties. Yet, floodplain information for portions of the lower Brazos basin are lacking or outdated.

This new study is designed to help remedy that problem. The study will update floodplain information for that region in the lower Brazos basin, which includes identifying existing flood risks, recommending flood protection measures, and developing more accurate floodplain management tools. This will benefit short-term flood forecasting and response as well as long-term planning issues along the river. When completed, the study will provide local communities, counties and drainage districts with detailed and updated information to help with land-use planning, emergency response and sound floodplain management.

The BRA will manage and administer the study, which is expected to take three years to complete. Though the BRA will not dedicate funds to the project, it will contribute in-kind services worth an estimated $29,000. Additional grants and matching funds will be obtained to pay for the study’s final phase.

The Brazos River can be a mighty and sometimes destructive force that is continually changing. With the Texas population growing and increasing numbers living near the river, floodplain information must be updated periodically. This new study is a great stride in that direction.