December 27, 2022

Actionable Next Steps in Our Regional Drainage Improvement Program

Having earlier this year expressed clear policy direction for the continued progression of our regional drainage improvement program, last week the City Council awarded an engineering contract to Ardurra Group, Inc., to assist the City as technical advisor and to actively manage the process moving forward.  They will take the findings and recommendations of the Bellaire Master Drainage Concept Plan and begin developing actual projects, to include maximizing opportunities for outside funding and partnerships.  Ardurra brings years of experience and established relationships doing this kind of work throughout our area.

The way we’ve set it up, Ardurra will perform under the contract pursuant to individual work orders to be authorized by Council, each with a discrete scope and specific tasks to be accomplished within a certain timeframe and budget.  Council thus retains complete oversight through each phase, and will be able to provide ongoing strategic direction.  This approach additionally preserves flexibility, as it will allow us to tailor future work orders according to our needs as circumstances arise and as projects evolve.

Simultaneous with the contract award Council also issued Work Order #1 (Criteria Refinement, Project Planning and Funding Strategies Identification), which sets up the first 12 months of activities, organized by the following tasks:
  1.  Refinements to Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance/Development Codes
  2.  Development of Drainage Criteria for Future Improvement Projects
  3.  City and Public Engagement Efforts
  4.  Master Drainage Concept Plan Validation and Refinement Recommendations
  5.  Initial Project Refinement/Development
  6.  Road Map for Funding Recommended Projects
  7.  Position Projects for Grant Funding and Prepare Grant Applications
  8.  Agency/Partner Coordination Efforts
These tasks are all spelled out in detail in the documentation; a key takeaway is that Work Order #1 emphasizes moving quickly to jump-start implementation of the high-priority, Phase 1 improvements identified in the Master Drainage Concept Plan, while at the same time building the foundation for a longer-term, comprehensive regional drainage improvement program.

The Ardurra contract and Work Order #1 represent the actionable next steps coming out of our flood mitigation planning workshops back in the spring.  The project team anticipates being ready with subsequent work orders around the middle of next year.  They will be presenting regular monthly updates to the City Council, and are targeting a meeting with our citizen Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force in March and a community open house in June.  They will also be creating a project-specific website to serve as a platform for public information and engagement.