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Wharton Flood Reduction Project - Levee 

Lower Colorado River Phase 1 (Wharton), TX 

 

The authorized Lower Colorado River Basin Phase I project consists of two separable elements, Onion Creek and Wharton.  Onion Creek construction has been fully funded and construction will essentially be complete in Fiscal Year 2019, leaving the Wharton separable element to be funded and constructed.  The City of Wharton, with a population of approximately 9,000, is nestled along the Colorado River in the lower part of the basin, approximately 60 miles southwest of Houston.  The citizens have been subject to frequent flooding from both the Colorado River as well as from more localized events.  

     Not including Hurricane Harvey, two major flood events estimated as approximately 25-year events have occurred since 1998.  In November 2004, a flood event inundated approximately 150 homes and businesses, causing $8 million in damages.  Three separate events of a slightly less magnitude (approximately a 10-year event) also occurred in 2015 and 2016.  Each time, evacuations were performed and as many as 100 homes were affected.  Federal disaster declarations such as the one in 2015 have almost become ‘routine’ for the small town, but the relatively low income residents have little choice but to bear the consequences. 

     The Wharton separable element consists of approximately 35,600 feet of levees, 2,300 feet of floodwalls, 7,000 feet of channel modifications, and interior drainage features.  Approximately 60 percent of the city is within the designated 100-year floodplain, but the project would mitigate flood risk to parts of the City. 

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April 19th Lunch and Learn

 

April 2022 Lunch & Learn Levee Presentation USACE Project Manager, Andy Park presented at the 4/19/2022 Wharton Chamber of Commerce Lunch & Learn event. A complete copy of the information presented is available below:

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Feed Back for Architectural Impacts to West End and Courthouse Commercial Districts Requested

 

Residents and business/property owners in the West End District or Wharton Courthouse Commercial District are being asked for input concerning construction of the Wharton levee that will primarily affect their historic property's overall historic setting and view.  The Wharton levee system will consist of earthen berms along the bank of the Colorado River varying in size dependent upon location with an average height of eight feet and 80 foot width. In addition, interior drainage sumps set below ground level will hold and drain excess rainfall into the Colorado River. Please contact Gwyneth Teves, Director of Planning & Development with the City of Wharton at gteves@cityofwharton.com or 979-532-2491 ext. 238 with comments and concerns regarding these impacts that will affect the historic qualities of their property before May 11, 2022. 

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Right-of-Way Acquisition & Relocation Process

 

During the right-of-way acquisition and relocation process, the team will follow the federal guidelines outlined in the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 (Uniform Act). This is intended to ensure fair treatment, compensation, and assistance to property owners whose property is acquired for public use projects.

Uniform Act Objectives:

• Provide uniform, fair and equitable treatment of persons whose real property is acquired or who are displaced in connection with federally funded projects

• Ensure relocation assistance is provided to displaced persons to lessen the emotional and financial impact of displacement

• Ensure that no individual or family is displaced unless decent, safe and sanitary housing is available within the displaced person’s financial means

• Help improve the housing conditions of displaced persons living in substandard housing

• Encourage and expedite acquisition by agreement and without coercion

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Questions and Answers

 

*Answers provided by the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)*

 

How many property owners will be impacted by the construction of the levees and associated drainage channels for the project?

Approximately 200, including potential Colorado Phase 2 and Baughman Slough.

 

Will USACE be acquiring property or will it be the city?

The City of Wharton will be acquiring properties on behalf of USACE but all requirements of the Uniform Act will be followed. The foundation process to acquire private land by the federal government in a uniform and equitable way is spelled out in detail in the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, and amended in 1987. This law is commonly referred to as the Uniform Act.

 

When will property owners begin to be contacted?  

Colorado Phase 1 property owners have been contacted. Colorado Phase 2 and Baughman Slough property owners will be contacted as design is refined by USACE, pending funds availability. 

 

Is there a published schedule yet for when design and construction will be complete?

Colorado Phase 1 design has been completed and is anticipated to break ground late Spring/Summer 2022. Colorado Phase 2 and Baughman Slough are currently in design, construction pending funds availability. 

 

How long will it take to build the levee?

Colorado Phase 1 is estimated to take a year and a half. Colorado Phase 2 and Baughman Slough is currently estimated to take two years. 

 

When will building of the levee begin?

Levee building is expected to begin in late Spring/Summer 2022. 

 

How will I know if my property will be part of the levee?

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or City of Wharton representatives/contractors will be contacting property owners impacted directly by building of the levees.

 

How will it affect property owners outside of the levee?

The design of the levees to be built in the Wharton area give the maximum benefit for the costs while minimizing impact to surrounding area. City of Wharton and USACE continues to collaborate with local agencies (TxDOT, KC Southern Railroad, Wharton County, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Historical Commission) and has reviewed flood modeling as part of this design process.

 

Will the City of Wharton still flood even with a levee?

Wharton levee system is designed to mitigate flood risk and damage but will not prevent 100 percent of flooding in the area. In certain events like Harvey, part of the City will still experience flooding but at a reduced level. 

 

Who is paying for the levee?

This project is federally funded through Public Law 115-123, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed into law February 9, 2018.

 

My property is downstream from Wharton and I hear you all are funneling all the water through Wharton and are going to flood me out?

The levee system being built in Wharton will mitigate the flood risk and damage to the city and its citizens from catastrophic floods while not raising the downstream consequences significantly. The project reduces the amount of spillage from the Colorado River which passes directly through the City of Wharton, without meaningfully increasing flood stages outside the City.  It produces no "funneling" of flood waters and actually reduces the flood water passing through Caney Creek and nearby tributaries. City of Wharton and USACE continue to revise design to maximize benefit while reducing risk to surrounding areas. 

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City of Wharton
120 East Caney Street
Wharton, Texas 77488
Phone: (979) 532-2491

Wharton Volunteer Fire Department
319 N. Fulton St.
Wharton, Texas 77488
(979) 532-4811 Ext 400

info@whartonfire.com
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Wharton Police Department
1407 N Richmond Rd

Wharton, Texas 77488
(979) 532-3131
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City of Wharton Civic Center
1924 N Fulton St.
Wharton, Texas 77488
(979) 532-2491 Ext 600
Wharton Emergency Management
1407 N Richmond Rd.
Wharton, Texas 77488
(979) 532-4811 Ext 570
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