Harvey flooding forces release from Addicks and Barker

Col. Lars N. Zetterstrom with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Sunday afternoon that rising levels in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs will force authorities to release water from both dams. Based on the corps data, the rising waters will place residents and their home in dangerous situations.  

He said the measures were necessary to prevent uncontrolled releases.

“We will have to release water to reduce the risk flooding in the Houston metropolitan,” he said. “Until we realize the actual rise we can predict how many homes would be impacted.” 

Homeowners near the reservoirs will likely have water seep into their homes prior to the release.

Some of the released water will flow into the Buffalo Bayou and increase the already bulging water levels.

This will lead to officials issuing a voluntary evacuation for residents living along the bayou. Fort Bend County issued the evacuation for portions of the county later Sunday.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff

Park Ranger David Mackintosh enters the water control structure on Barker reservoir. Development upstream is causing the 70-year-old reservoir to fill up faster and hold water longer. Below, water flows down the spillway of the Barker dam into Buffalo Bayou.

Park Ranger David Mackintosh enters the water control structure on…

The corps plans to release water by 2 a.m. Monday at Addicks and 11 a.m. at Barker. Each will be set to release about 4,000 cubic feet of water per second, about double what they release during normal operations, and they will stay open for several weeks, Zetterstrom said. 

All roads around the dams will be closed prior to releases. 

Zetterstrom said the water taken in by the dam from the storms is unparalleled and will exceed records set in 2015 and 2016.  

He said weather models shows that water would begin rising 4 to 6 inches an hour by early tomorrow morning. 

VITAL LINE OF DEFENSE: Addicks and Barker were built to protect the heart of the city by controlling the flow of water along Buffalo Bayou. Things haven’t gone as planned. What’s at stake is the safety of the nation’s fourth-largest city. If the dams failed, half of Houston would be underwater. Under the worst scenario at Addicks, property damages could reach $22.7 billion and 6,928 people could die. Read our story on the dams here. 

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