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Watch “City of Galveston Drainage Vision 2025, Grants Bonds IDC Drainage Capital Improvement Program 2020 Update & Low Impact Development LID” on YouTube

Improving the island’s drainage is one of the City of Galveston’s highest priorities, and the city has developed long-term plans for extensive drainage solutions in addition to the progress already underway on numerous improvements. These projects serve to reduce flooding during rain events.

The Vision 2025 some of which are in grant applications not awarded detail existing storm sewer systems that would be replaced and upgraded using the City’s updated criteria that now require a 25-year storm drainage capacity. Additionally, the design if awarded will provide for at least one lane of emergency vehicle access in the event of a 25-year storm.

“Drainage is not something that gets fixed overnight. Projects of this type require a great deal of long-term planning both financially and from an engineering standpoint”.

The project improvement area if awarded includes an outfall pump station on the Galveston Ship Channel end of the proposed storm drain system located at Stategic locations.

Upon completion of these projects, the city will have the capacity to effectively control rainwater produced in a 100-year event within the city’s right-of-way and eliminate flooding of private property within the boundaries of the project improvement area. In addition, this project will significantly reduce flooding in project services area adjacent to the improvement area, prevent flooding on two main evacuation routes, provide critical access to community lifelines, and increase the City of Galveston’s resiliency to flooding from future events.

Good morning City Council. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to develop and share the Drainage Vision 2025 for the City of Galveston! First, I’d like to thank the City Council for their proactive leadership in drainage. Drainage investment in Galveston provides a far broader benefit than the City Limits itself. During Hurricane Harvey, the Galveston international airport kept the heart of Houston, Texas City and all others in this region alive, while Hobby and the International Airport were flooded. Therefore, drainage investment in Galveston provides a regional not just a local benefit.

Galveston has been through its major challenges but our proactive City Council turned these challenges into opportunities. After Hurricane Ike which devastated the City, the City started its rebuilding with the Ike recovery funds we received for repairing the damage to our infrastructure. Majority of these projects were in full motion in 2014.

Drainage infrastructure resiliency improvement started as a subsidiary to the Streets Ike Recovery projects and has advanced to its primary focus in the City today.

Drainage investment in Galveston provides a far broader benefit than the City Limits itself. During Hurricane Harvey, the Galveston international airport kept the heart of Houston, Texas City and all others in this region alive, while Hobby and the International Airport were flooded. Therefore, drainage investment in Galveston provides a regional not just a local benefit.

Our City Council has consistently shown a strong emphasis on Drainage Infrastructure Investment and has empowered City Staff to find innovative funding mechanisms such as City and County Bonds, IDC, CDBG, FEMA and TDEM Grants.

We’d also like to say a special thanks to our Citizens who approved the Bond Election of 2017 to improve our roads, water and sanitary sewer infrastructure. Drainage was a sub or minor component of these projects with the major drainage projects approaching final design and construction. So the improvement can be evaluated by our citizens after these projects have been built.

Our lessons learned during Ike Recovery and Bond projects implementations and the weathering of the numerous storms since Ike, has advanced our team to develop a 2025 drainage vision for the future Galveston’s unique challenges have advanced us to develop an unique 2025 Drainage Vision Plan.

In this presentation the focus will be on the vision, the solution, and its implementation. A model solution is in design right now, it has never been done before in the Houston-Galveston Region, and its implementation Island-wide could have far reaching Benefits to project Galveston’s leadership in Drainage Solutions.

Houston is only 3 times longer than Galveston but has a tax base that is 100 times the size of Galveston for the same length that it spans. This means we have to provide roads, drainage, water and sewer service for 1/3 the length of Houston with 1/100th the Tax base of Houston. So where does the funding come for drainage?

Let’s look at service fees. Looking at our fees for ROW construction drainage permits and drainage culvert installations these fees are a very small fraction of the cost of drainage permit and field installation service by our most efficient staff.

Environmental Uniqueness: Our terrain is flat, slow drainage, and bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay. We are affected by high tides and storm surges and take the first hit from hurricanes and storms.

Our rainfall is high intensity short time span and our City so historical that you’ll never know what you find when a trench is opened to install drainage pipes even though we perform feasible investigations in advance.

Too often teams try to find solutions before understanding the problem and that leads to a path of failure. Galveston has been the graveyard for Contractors, Engineers and many others because they did not understand Galveston is unique and tried to implement a Houston, Austin or Boston solution for Galveston and failed. Solutions need to be realistic and cost effective providing the best return on investment for the community.

Nothing happens without funding. And to get funding and compete for funds with the entire US, we have to communicate to the Citizens and the Grant Agency that our solution provides the best return on investment. Providing that communication needs extensive research, conceptual design, modeling and presentation of a grant application to the funding agency, bond election, and addressing communities’ questions factually. Once we Secure the funding we are on the clock to implement the solution.

The D in drainage is not Do something. It represents Designing the effective, feasible and cost sensitive solution for the community. The I in drainage represents investment and E is the exit, our outfalls where drainage flows into the bay.


Pipe Clogs, High Tides, Marine Growth, Outfall Pipe Clogging-Cleaning the outfalls will be temporary & last only until next high tide.

Drainage on the island is not something anyone can fix in the next five years. We can make incremental progress by increasing drains and such but it all comes down to how it gets to the bay or the bayou and the tides at that time. Newer cities have retention and detention. Much like every City our age, Galveston was by design built to provide retention/detention within the street itself. We will continue to upsize the drains and now have a program to attempt to keep them free from tidal silt. Tidal slit can fill up to 50%-60% of some drains when we have high tides and this program has proven to help improve drainage when in place. Solutions beyond what we are doing would be in the billions of dollars and a burden that could not be sustained by local taxpayers. It will take federal intervention, like in New Orleans or New Jersey, to solve it completely and most likely with a coastal barrier of some type.

Watch “City of Galveston Drainage Vision 2025 Low Impact Economic Development & Capital Improvement Program” on YouTube: