1 in 6 Texans live or work in a flood hazard area, according to state flood plan draft

The Texas Water Development Board is asking for the public’s feedback after releasing a draft of the first-ever comprehensive flood plan for the state of Texas, which leads the nation in flood-related property damage and deaths.

A public hearing was held on Thursday to kick off the public comment period for the plan. Legislation passed after Hurricane Harvey tasked TWDB with creating the plan, which was released earlier this month.

"We want to put out a state flood plan that does what it is tasked to do: save lives and save property," said Brooke Paup, chairwoman of the Texas Water Development Board.

The more than 200-page plan compiled findings from 15 regional flood plains and laid out state, regional and local flood management recommendations.

"This plan confirms that the flood risk across Texas is significant and widespread," said Reem Zoun, director of TWDB’s Flood Planning division.

According to the draft plan, approximately 1 in 6 Texans live or work in known flood hazard areas. 2.4 million Texans live or work in the 1 percent annual chance floodplain, also known as the 100-year floodplain. Approximately 70% of flood-related fatalities occur on roadways, often at low-water crossings at night.

The total estimated cost of implementing all the recommendations is more than $54 billion, with most of that allotted to the state's coast.


Legislative priorities listed include investing in low water crossing safety, an early warning system for flooding, and an enhanced dam safety program.

At Thursday’s meeting, some speakers voiced support for the draft plan along with concerns like housing affordability and a changing climate.

"We would recommend that as part of this first plan or incorporation into future plans, that TWDB provide best management practices and guidance to local entities on how to incorporate climate change into their modeling," said Cyrus Reed, conservation director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. "I think that's important to emphasize because we think the plan before you may not incorporate the best science and the wide variety of expected increases in flooding events and sea level rise that we're likely to see along the coast."

Public comments are being accepted online through June 17.

TWDB is expected to adopt a final version of the plan at a meeting in August and present it to the legislature by September 1.