Opinion: More concrete ditches and paved-over prairies? Houston must pivot to nature-based flood mitigation

With damage already felt from Hurricane Hanna on the middle and lower Texas coast, and the potential for a devastating hurricane season upon us, the fear of a repeat Hurricane Harvey is top of mind for Houston-area residents and local elected leaders alike. However, many are unaware that leaders in the region have an unprecedented opportunity to set Houston and Harris County on a more resilient and equitable path when it comes to mitigating the impact of future flooding events. With long-standing conventional projects waiting in the wings, there is growing concern that the window for innovation is closing.

After Harvey, many scientific and technical expert groups were formed, reports commissioned, and the public was convened — all in search of solutions. A common theme emerged from all of these efforts: we can’t keep approaching flood mitigation in the same ways and expect a different result — the powerful role of the area’s natural systems, plus a focus on the equitable distribution of funds, must be part of the answer.

Read more from Amanda Fuller, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program and Jordan Macha, executive director of Bayou City Waterkeeper, writing for the Houston Chronicle here.