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Houston City Council accepts millions of dollars in grants to start flood mitigation projects

One of the projects will turn the Inwood Forest Golf Course near Antoine & Little York into a 226-acre detention space.

HOUSTON — Houston City Council accepted millions of dollars in grants Wednesday to start two long-awaited projects that city leaders hope could reduce flooding and protect the property of thousands of people.

Houston City Council voted unanimously to accept more than $5 million in federal grants to design and permit two major flood control projects.

One turns the old Inwood Forest Golf Course near Antoine & Little York into a 226-acre detention space.

“That detention basin will hold more water than the Astrodome,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The other project adds ten gates to the Lake Houston dam. Nearby homes flooded during Harvey after releases upstream from Lake Conroe raised the lake level.

“This will allow much of that water to go out the back end,” said Mayor Turner. “This was, like, the number one project for the people in that Kingwood area.”

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Council Member Greg Travis, whose District G covers West Houston, and flood czar Steve Costello publicly shot back against claims made on social media that the Inwood project would make flooding worse on the city’s west side.

“The water doesn’t even go there,” said Costello. “The water flows into White Oak bayou, then downstream, into Buffalo Bayou, and in downtown.”

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Meanwhile, Council Member Dave Martin, whose District E includes repeatedly hard-hit Kingwood, called for an investigation and more money spent to figure out why Kingwood keeps flooding, even during more normal rainfall.

“I’ve lived there for 30 years, and I’ve never seen the neighborhood like this,” said Council Member Martin. “We need to figure it out immediately because if we don’t, this tax base that was annexed in 1996 will go away.”

Designing the Inwood detention basin and Lake Houston gates will take about a year. FEMA will review the plan before construction starts, which is expected to take another two years.