Understanding the Brave New World of Floodplains Post Harvey

APA Texas Chapter


Friday, October 19, 2018
3:45 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. CDT

CM | 1.50

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Devastating floods over the past few years, culminating with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, have changed the way Texas planners look at floodplains. Hard-hit areas are forced to respond and are stepping up. But many other communities are slower in making changes happen. In the past, many planners saw floodplains as just lines on a map that indicate limits of development, and many still don’t understand how those limits are estimated and what they really mean. Worse than that, many communities treat floodplains as a limit – do whatever you want on the uphill side, but just don’t cross that line. Today's brave new paradigm calls for a new stronger relationship between planners and floodplain engineers. Much like planners, floodplain engineers work with data, mapping, science and even a dose of art. They create models and scenarios with an incredibly complex combination of factors, considering rainfall events of widely differing intensities, durations, and even where the rainfall goes to project what areas may be impact. For planners, understanding these variables, understanding solutions for undeveloped sites as well as for urbanized areas, and what measures we can take to both prevent and accommodate flooding will result in more resilient, and indeed, more livable communities. No matter what level of plan you are undertaking, from a long-range comprehensive plan, to special district or park plans, to everyday zoning and development cases, understanding how to respond to the flood that will come someday can help us create even better communities.

Session Objectives:
1. Learn how floodplain engineers and scientists use models to estimate floodplain limits, and how new data from recent storm events changes those calculations.
2. Identify potential best practices solutions to mitigate and work with extraordinary flooding events.
3. Understand problems and solutions considered in case studies from multiple regions of Texas.
4. Learn how planners and engineers are collaborating to develop more effective and sensitive solutions to enhance safety and reduce property losses.


Jonathan Holley

Jonathan W. Holley has worked at the Harris County Flood Control District since 2009, first as the Stormwater Quality Design Project Manager and now as the Regulatory Compliance Department Manager. His project planning and management experience includes enhancing regional stormwater detention basins with stormwater quality treatment wetlands, incorporating natural stable ... Read More

Terry Barr

Terry Barr, PE, CFM is a professional engineer and certified floodplain manager with Halff Associates Inc. in the Houston region. A graduate of Texas A&M University, he has served as project manager, engineering support, water resources team leader, and Director of Water Resources. His project experience includes drainage analysis ... Read More

Matt Bucchin

Matt Bucchin, AICP, LEED Green Associate is currently a Director of Planning with Halff Associates, Inc., based out of Austin, Texas. He has over 20 years of public and private sector experience at the city, state, and special district levels of government. Over the past seven years, Matt has worked ... Read More

Contact Info

Barbara Holly, rholly@spamarrest.com