Panther Island / Central City News

Did You Know: What key factors create our flood risks?

At a high level, there are two main factors that create our flood risks. Fort Worth’s booming population increase and the 90° turn in the Trinity River right after the merge of the West Fork and Clear Fork, just north of Downtown.

Fort Worth has nearly tripled in size since the United States Corps of Engineers built the current levee system in the early 1960s. Our levee system was built for a population of roughly 350,000 people and Fort Worth has now surpassed 900,000 people. Because of the booming population growth, even as far back as the early 2000s, the USACE had already determined that 86% of Fort Worth’s current levee system is no longer tall enough to protect us from the events the Corps expects to hit this area. Meaning, if Fort Worth saw a flood similar to that of the 1949 event, over 2,400 acres of neighborhoods in our city could be flooded again.

Fort Worth was founded on the downtown bluff overlooking the Trinity River. The founding fathers chose the bluff for strategic reasons, looking down at the river as a source of vitality. However, that very site condition has been a major contributing factor to the devastating floods our city has experienced. Just after the West Fork and Clear Fork merge below the downtown bluff there is a 90° turn in the Trinity River (shown in the image above within the green circle) that prevents high water events from quickly passing through the area.

The Corps’ hydraulic and hydrology modeling of their bypass channel has determined that the bypass channel will solve Fort Worth’s flooding problem. The channel will cut off the section of river that is causing our system to back up and the efficiency of the bypass channel will make the rest of the levee system of sufficient height to protect the 2,400 acres of neighborhoods that are currently at risk. The bypass channel will also make the section of levees that are cut off from the rest the system obsolete. Because that section will be obsolete, that section can be removed if so desired. However, none of the rest of the system will be lowered.