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$32M Poor Farm Ditch flood control project moves forward with federal funding

A vital flood control project for residents in three cities is moving forward with a new injection of federal funding.

What happened

A $32.5 million effort to improve Poor Farm Ditch will proceed with help from $9.9 million in federal funding. In addition, two cities, one county and Texas are all contributing funds to advance the project.
  • $16.9 million from the state, an allocation that was included in the recently adopted 2023-25 biannual budget
  • $5.7 million from the Harris County Flood Control District
  • $150,000 from the city of West University Place
  • $150,000 from the city of Southside Place
The backstory

Design work on the human-made, concrete-lined Poor Farm Ditch has been underway since 2015, though studies into the stormwater conveyance channel date back to the 1990s, HCFCD officials said. The waterway runs from just south of Greenway Plaza to the Brays Bayou through the cities of Houston, West University Place and Southside Place. The project had been repeatedly delayed because of a lack of funding.

Work on Poor Farm Ditch has been a focal point of the flood control discussions underway in both West University Place and Southside Place with homes in both cities abutting the ditch. West University Place officials are also looking into the feasibility of enclosing Poor Farm Ditch north of University Boulevard.

Quote of note

Some West University Place Council members and residents spoke out against a previous Harris County plan to improve the ditch because of concerns over how it would affect residents. However, West University Place Mayor Susan Sample said everyone was on the same page with the new plan. The 70-year-old ditch has needed repairs for 25 years, Sample said.

“From day one after we took the oath of office, we started talking about this project,” Sample said of herself and Southside Place Mayor Andy Chan, both of whom were elected to their positions in spring 2021.

How we got here

During a June 28 news conference, U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, announced the project will receive $9.9 million in federal funding through the Community Funded Projects submission process. Fletcher included Poor Farm Ditch among the 15 projects she requested funding for in 2023.

Fletcher was joined by Sample, Chan, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, state Rep. Ann Johnson and HCFCD Executive Director Tina Petersen at the June 28 event to announce the full funding of the project and plans for future construction.

The details

Poor Farm Ditch serves as the stormwater conveyance system for 1,300 acres, according to the HCFCD. The project, which will be led by the HCFCD, will involve building a channel structure, rehabilitating the existing channel and reinforcing access ramps, all of which are meant to help the flow of stormwater. The improvements are expected to increase protection for 500 homes and more than 1,000 residents, Fletcher said.

What's next

Design work will carry on for six months to a year, which will be followed by a construction bidding process. Once a construction bid is approved, the construction on the ditch could take another 18 months to complete.

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