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BCRAGD – first in state to apply for flood protection grant

By Sandy Jennings BCC Staff Writer

At their quarterly board meeting on Thursday, June 9, directors of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) authorized General Manager David Mauk to apply for a Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Flood Protection Grant for Bandera County.
If the BCRAGD receives the $575,000 grant, Bandera will be the first county in the state to implement the new program presented to the board by Doug Schnoebelen, PhD, and Sam Rendon of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“The plan is an incredible, powerful tool for the city, allowing them to know when and where to evacuate people,” Rendon said. “It is a pilot program for the United States.”
The program’s four key factors include monitoring the rate and amount of rainfall, risk assessment, communication and response capability.
Bandera would add two additional gauges – at the North and West forks of the Medina River – to existing monitor gauges located at Medina and Bandera. The two new gauges would monitor how much rainfall and at what rate the rain is falling, to allow fact gathering from all tributaries and the entire basin.
Risk assessment would also include using Flood Inundation Maps (FIM) to show different depths of the river, a flood atlas and “what if” scenarios to enhance predictions, response and recovery.
In addition, communication increases through the FIM web application, which would allow the public to view in their computer or phone. ”Getting that information to the right people – the Decision Support System – is the most important factor,” Rendon said.
He also added that “after action” reports can be added to monitor and learn from the patterns of flooding, response and action taken.
“This program integrates all of these systems into one application, allowing you to see everything at once,” Rendon said. “This is an extremely powerful tool to help the community deal with flooding.”
Mauk told the board that he and BCRAGD staff would work with the city, county and school districts to implement this program when it comes to fruition. He also added that, should the total amount needed not be met by the grant, it would take financial support from all of these entities to fund the program.
“There are a lot of ways to make this happen,” Schnoebelen said. “We have worked to design the correct decision-making tool. It is a science. It is where we need to go to have the correct tool to make and communicate those decisions. Communication is the key.”