The Texas Water Development Board, the state agency tasked with providing funds and know-how to maintain Texas’ water resources, awarded Fort Worth $247,378 recently for flood protection. The financial assistance, part of a larger $3.5 million statewide grant, is designated to “finance flood early-warning systems, flood-response strategies, and flood-protection planning,” according to an agency press release.
The water board folks have heard plenty of complaints from Eastside residents. A handful of them told us that the Trinity River overflow is swallowing their homes, small farms, livestock, and way of life. High water rescues across Fort Worth reached record levels last year, according to Fort Worth Fire Department records. While 2013 and 2014 saw an average of 13 high-water investigations and zero water rescues, last year there were 79 high-water investigations and an unprecedented 18 flood-related rescues. Chalk it up to the four horsemen of the floodpocalypse: climate change, development on and around the Trinity’s floodplain, runoff from urban sprawl, and periodic controlled water releases from three area lakes (Benbrook, Eagle Mountain, and Lake Worth).
There’s plenty of money for flood prevention in Fort Worth, but most of it –– an estimated $1 billion for the upscale development project known as the Trinity River Vision –– is allocated for an area just north of downtown that hasn’t experienced a catastrophic flood in decades.
About $100,000 of that money, or .01 percent, has been allocated for research into flood-control possibilities that could benefit the East Side next year, said Chad Lorance of the Tarrant Regional Water District, the government group that has managed drinking water and flood-control measures for Fort Worth since 1924.
The lopsided spending priorities have some Eastsiders feeling like they’ve been left out in the rain by their own city leaders.