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Flood Control District Among Those Honored for Synergy Awards


March 29, 2006
The Harris County Flood Control District recently received a Partnership/Synergy Award from The Park People for its Brays Bayou Tidal Marsh Project. The project, located in the city of Houston's Mason Park on the east side of town, is a wetlands habitat designed to clean stormwater runoff that enters Brays Bayou and flows through the Houston Ship Channel. The tidal marsh is a component of the Brays Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Project ("Project Brays") that is widening the bayou, building four large stormwater detention basins and modifying 32 bridges to remove the 1% (100-year) floodplain from tens of thousands of homes and businesses along Brays Bayou.

Brays Bayou Freshwater Tidal Marsh at Mason Park. During Construction (L), and post-construction rendering (R)

In past times of heavy rain, stormwater runoff from neighborhoods adjacent to Mason Park would empty directly into Brays Bayou through outfall pipes, dumping sediment and pollutants directly into the water. Now, the wetlands habitat -- complete with approximately 5,000 plants -- filters the stormwater and allows it to empty into the bayou in a much cleaner state. Wetlands plants such as cattails and sedges are known to absorb sediment and pollutants from stormwater.

Partnerships Vital to The Freshwater Tidal Marsh's Success
While the Flood Control District engineered and constructed the Brays Bayou Tidal Marsh, it worked with a host of partners to complete the project: The City of Houston donated land from Mason Park; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department designed the wetlands ponds that comprise the marsh; and the Texas Cooperative Extension/Texas Sea Grant and students from Austin and Chavez high schools planted the wetlands plants. Other partners include: Galveston Bay Estuary Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Coastal Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Master Naturalist, NRG Texas (formerly Texas Genco), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Coastal Management Program/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Brays Bayou Freshwater Todal Marsh at Mason Park. Students and other partners observe marsch vegetation

Multi-purpose Projects Add Form to Function
"The Harris County Flood Control District has spent millions of dollars to reduce flood risks for people living along Brays Bayou. We are proud to receive recognition for how our projects create attractive public spaces and help clean water in the bayou," said Mike Talbott, director of the Flood Control District. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with all of the partners involved."

The Partnership/Synergy Award was one of six given by The Park People at its 2006 Annual Awards Dinner. Awards are given to people and organizations whose combined work for parks and open spaces have a greater effect than the sum of individual efforts.

"The Flood Control District's design and construction of freshwater wetlands exemplifies the mission upon which The Park People was founded 27 years ago," said Tom Theriot, president of the board of directors for The Park People. "The Park People is delighted to recognize a project that is indeed larger than any one of these partners could have envisioned or imagined alone."

> See Houston Chronicle Story on The District's Synergy Award
> Learn more about Project Brays

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