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2016-09-01

BCRAGD receives flood warning grant

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Courtesy photo
This image shows the area of Bandera City Park by the dam near Highway 173 South during 2012 flood event.



The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District has received a grant of $265,150 to develop an early warning flood system, according to General Manager David Mauk.
In an interview, on Friday, August 29, Mauk said that the local grant was one of 17 approved by the Texas Water Development Board. “I believe the grants totaled $3.5 million in all,” he said. The funds from the Disaster Contingency Fund will be used to finance flood early warning systems, flood response strategies and protection planning, Mauk added.
“This innovative project will protect not only the lives of local residents and visitors, but also communities downstream through a flood warning tool set,” he noted. “It will expand the existing early flood warning systems to include two additional stream gages upstream. This, in turn, will improve response strategies and flood protection planning through its advanced modeling and mapping capabilities.”
The flood warning tool will be developed by the BCRAGD, in partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). As reported earlier in the Courier, the project will take place from the community of Medina to upstream of Medina Lake – a span of 25 miles.
“USGS would like to use Bandera County as a pilot program for the entire State of Texas,” Mauk said.
USGS will install two additional stage-only streamflow gauging stations to help assist with early flood warning. The gauge height will be measured and recorded every 15 minutes and transmitted hourly by satellite to the USGS National Water Information System database.
To assess the vulnerabilities associated with flooding in Bandera County, the project will include the development of a HEC-RAS (Hydrologic Engineering Center River Analysis System) hydraulic model. This model will sim7ulate flow routing and potential inundation area for the Medina River from Medina and downstream to Medina Lake. Using collected data, potential flood inundation maps will be compiled to create a flood atlas for the hydraulically modeled area of the county. This flood atlas will be included on the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping Program website, which will be available to the public.
Additionally, the grant will fund development of a Decision Support System (DSS), a common operating decision-based system for emergency managers in Bandera County. Incorporated data includes information from after action reports. These reports, often developed from observed data by emergency managers, will help assess areas most sensitive to flood hazards.
The flood warning tool set will provide BCRAGD with an ability to forecast and respond to floods in their area by having two additional gauges upstream for warning; flood inundation maps depicting areas of possible flooding, and a decision Support System to integrate incoming data streams.
Announcing the grants, Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun said, “The severity of flood damage and resulting loss of life across Texas in recent years has demonstrated that communities need more financial resources to help them prepare for and respond to floods.” Bandera is no exception.
Twice this summer, prolonged, heavy rains required the evacuation of RV parks located along the Medina River within the City of Bandera. The most serious incident occurred over Memorial Day weekend. At that time, due to delayed evacuation orders, floodwaters destroyed mobile homes and vehicles; however, no lives were lost.
An administrator from USGS noted, “Risk of future flooding events in the Bandera County area highlights a critical need for a flood warning system. As part of this system, a tool set is needed to enhance the communication of flood risk and provide emergency manages additional information necessary to mitigate more effectively the impacts of flooding.”
The project will take three years before being fully implemented and requires matching funds within that three-year period.
“Parts of the Midwest have successfully implemented this flood warning tool, and Bandera County will be an example to the rest of Texas,” Mauk said. “Moving forward, we are looking to partner with the City of Bandera and Bandera County as collaborators.”
City Administrator Michael “Mike” Garr said, “The city will benefit from the proposed project and we intend to contribute to the cause.” He anticipated that the municipality would work in conjunction with the Economic Development Corporation to allocate necessary funds. “We’ll likely earmark a certain amount of funds for the three-year period,” Garr said.
Lauding Mauk for doing the “legwork” necessary to secure the impressive grant, Garr added, “Dave is certainly an excellent representative for the river authority and I commend him for this achievement.”
A call to Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed regarding the grant was not returned.
Among others, the following entities and municipalities also received TWDB grants for early warning systems and flood protection planning and response:
• City of Austin, $96,633
• City of Beaumont, $287,000
• City of Buda, $292,890
• City of Fort Worth, $247,378
• City of Leon Valley, $11,309.86
• Guadalupe Blanco River Authority-Caldwell County, $70,688
• Guadalupe Blanco River Authority-Hays County, $37,406