Poor Farm Ditch Project
In June 2023, Harris County notified the cities of West University Place and Southside Place that it secured funding to complete the $31.3 million project. Thanks to the efforts of Congresswomen Fletcher, Senator Huffman, Senator Whitmire, and Representative Johnson in securing the remaining $26.59 million in funding.
Although this project will be managed by the Harris County Flood Control District, the City of West U is committed to providing information to its residents over the course of this initiative.
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The current channel was constructed in 1952 and is one of the earliest examples of a concrete-lined ditch in Harris County. But, the Poor Farm Ditch's origins date back to when homes in West U were first under construction in the 1920s! Early records note that the ditch, formally known as Drainage Ditch No. 2, was drudged in 1928.
The area is no stranger to flooding events, which is why Poor Farm Ditch was, and still is, a highly sought-after tool in regional flood control goals. The next major facelift the Ditch received was in in the 1950s by the Harris County Flood Control District (Flood Control District) - the managing authority overseeing the Ditch's performance and future reconstruction.
The next major discussion over Poor Farm Ditch did not come to fruition until 2002 when West University Place and Southside Place initiated a collaborative effort to enhance the condition and functionality of the channel.
Since the discussions in 2002, the Flood Control District and an engineering firm were engaged to assist in improving the ditch's functionality. The flooding events in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 highlighted calls for a comprehensive review of the region's flood control measures. This caused other county projects to take higher priority by the HCFCD, but after failing to secure funding the project was put on hold in 2019.
On October 31, 2023, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved the Poor Farm Ditch Interlocal Agreement (ILA) between the Flood Control District and the cities of West University Place and Southside Place. This next step allows the Flood Control District to implement the first phase of this project.
In June 2023, local, county, and state officials announced $31.3 million in funding for the construction of improvements to the Poor Farm Ditch and since that time the cities of West U, Southside Place, and the HCFCD have been working on finalizing an interlocal agreement that will establish the terms and responsibilities for the cities of West U, Southside Place, and Harris County.
Once the approved agreement is in place, a final schedule will be developed and then Harris County will begin work on completing the design, which currently sits at 90% complete.
While this is a Harris County Flood Control project, the City of West U is committed to being a conduit of information for its residents as it relates to this project.
Residents seeking information directly from the Harris County Flood Control District can be found here: https://www.hcfcd.org/Activity/Active-Projects/Brays-Bayou/C-12-Poor-Farm-Ditch.
Who is managing this project?
This project is managed by the Harris County Flood Control District.
Why has this project taken so long?
This initiative has encountered funding and priority challenges throughout the last two decades. The project has gone through design changes and has suffered from other projects taking higher priority as a result of the impacts of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Why is this project needed?
Enhancements to Poor Farm Ditch will help contribute to regional flood control mitigation goals outlined by the Flood Control District. The project will provide overdue maintenance and repairs along the ditch and increase its overall stormwater capacity to help keep flood waters away from West U homes.
How much will this cost the city?
In 2023, West U City Council committed $150,000 to increase West U's participation in the design and construction phases of this project.