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Implications for the Future

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Water Control: Flooding Issues in Houston, Texas
The purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss the flooding problems in Houston, Texas. As a part of this analysis, this paper will assess the economical, political, and legal implications of Houston’s flooding. It will also explain the relationship that psychology has to environmental preservation, and will create a solution to the issue at hand. In the process of proposing a conceivable solution, this paper will discuss the economic, political, and legal barriers of the solution, how they can be overcome, and why this solution will be successful.
Flooding Issues in Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas is home to over two million individuals, and is the fourth largest city within the United States of America. It is located in the Southeastern part of the state of Texas, and sits roughly 50 feet above sea level. Houston is known for its famous nickname of the Bayou City, as it is home to over 2,500 miles of manmade rivers. These manmade rivers (bayous) are the city of Houston’s way of containing and channeling rain water to the ocean. This alternative drainage system was a much needed installation because of the city’s position, as compared to the sea level (Bayou Preservation, 2012).
Currently, Houston suffers from severe flooding issues (i.e. flash floods, urban floods, river and bayou floods), and depending upon the area of town, the probability of high and slow moving floodwaters increase. As the city’s population continues to rise, the roughly 650 square miles that encompass the city continues to become more crowded (urbanization). As such, the urban flooding issues continue to worsen, and the city of Houston continuously discusses how to combat, and eventually prevent the constant reoccurrences ("Floods and flash floods," 2012).
Economic, Political, and Legal Implications of Houston's Flooding
The Revised policies, originally established by the Harris County Flood Control District and City of Houston, concentrate on addressing the flood and drainage concerns, and inspect the proposed courses of action developed by local governments. There are three sections of government liable for the city’s storm water drainage; flood damage lessening and water worth: the City of Houston, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), and Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District (Publics Works, 2013).
The City of Houston’s overall agenda is to provide a variety of services to local residents, which includes the accountability for preserving community curbs, gutters, and drainage ditches. The Harris County Flood Control District and Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District’s purpose is to be responsible for flood damage lessening and developments that are suitable for the public and its natural values. Primary effects could be physical destruction fluctuating from bridges, cars, buildings, sewer systems, roadways, canals, and several varieties of structures. Fatalities from flooding include, but are not limited to individuals and livestock who perish because of becoming submerged underwater. Secondary effects would affect water supplies as impure water can cause plagues and viruses, and the purity of uncontaminated drinking water becomes threatened. Viruses can cause unhygienic conditions, and the outbreak of water-borne diseases, which can also cause agriculture and food supply scarcity due to the loss of entire harvests. The tertiary and long-term effects of floods can cause economic hardship due to short-term drops in tourism, rebuilding costs, and pricing increases as a direct result of shortages.
The City of Houston’s political persons include the Mayor of Houston, City Council members, and the Depart of Public Works and Engineering. Our Mayor, Anise D. Parker and City Council members are in charge of creating choices in regards to city plans, goals, and the applicable quantity of city capitals to pledge toward flood reductions. They are also responsible for creating regulations in regards to floods and drainage within the city. The Public Works Department is in charge of executing the choices made by the mayor and council members. The Department of Public Works and Engineering’s primary focus is storm water management. Within that broad platform, the department focuses on a number of things, which include: storm water condition and capacity, detention supplies, plat and plan authorization, present-day and extended varieties fundamental development, synchronization with the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) on public works and engineering productions, shareholder announcements, and flood awareness for the city (Harris County Flood Control District, 2010).
The City of Houston, Harris County, and the State of Texas appropriated a number of stages to generate a legal outline for unexpected flood relief. In 1937, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) was created by the Texas Legislature initially to be a local partner with the Federal Corps of Engineers for these two flood control reservoirs and other flood control developments in and around Houston (Blackburn & Dunbar, 2008). The District prearranged accountability for running our local waterways “for domestic, municipal, flood control, irrigation and other beneficial purposes” (Harris County Flood Control District, 2010, para. 2).
Psychology and Environmental Preservation
Psychologists have always been concerned with how the environment and individual behavior relate to one another. More specifically, psychologists look at how behavior contributes to climate change. The environmental psychologist’s plan is to decipher environmental issues through scientific research which produces factual evidence. Research on natural resource conservation and other environmental related issues has been ongoing for over 30 years. The research seeks to combine quality and application to make both personal and organizational change (Buckhout, 1972).
There has been extensive information formed based upon development within program and solutions to solve a number of different problems (Gifford, 200), that are clued in sustainability problems. Whereas a community of group identity is important, it is also lacking. When considering the global community, there is a tragic lack of teamwork. An example of this is when a farmer thinks more about harvesting to make money on an individual level, which can cause overharvesting of resources. Another study revealed that improving group identity will improve cooperation and prevent individual focus (Dawes & Messick, 2000).
Given human history, current events, and ecological validity, these findings are encouraging. China rejected mandatory emission cuts because it believed that the wealthy nations created the problem. This example represents that people can strongly identify with other nations at the same time that they lack an identity with the environment. Identifying with the environment helps to prevent future destructive behaviors and attitudes (Vlek, 1993).
There is an increased concern worldwide that the growing populations and expanding human activities are only using natural resources which all life depends on. The increased rate of human reproduction and its effect on the environment take place in countless areas. Increasing production of materials and material usage, expanding paragons of human’s ability to be mobile, and wasteful technologies transferring raw material into products and services are major reasons for environmental downfalls (Vlek, 1993).
Governments worldwide are improving their efforts in managing problems concerning air, water, soil pollution, waste disposal, noise pollution, odorous pollutants, and littering. The message is six-fold; environmental issues are social behavioral problems; psychology has significant things to say about the controlling of environmental problems; environmental policy writing is most effective when practicing multi-disciplinary collaboration; environmental problems can cause a violation of human security, well-being and development. “Environmental security” deserves to be a top priority on the international political agenda. Most importantly, international collaboration among environmental psychologists, scientists, and policymakers needs to be strengthened and improved (Vlek, 1993).
The Solution for Houston's Flooding Issues
The never-ending struggle between nature and man has no single solution that will solve the problems associated with flooding. A website for the Harris County Flood Control District makes it clear that it would take approximately $3 billion to upgrade the drainage infrastructure system in Houston (Harris County Flood District, 2010).
Infrastructure Enterprise Fund. In his “Solutions, not Soundbytes,” article, (2012) Noel Freeman, a member of the Texas Floodplain Management Association and a five year employee of Houston’s Public Works and Engineering Department, explains the first thing that needs to be done to address the problem is to create an Infrastructure Enterprise Fund for these projects. He explains when a specific fund is designated to these infrastructure projects; taxpayers will know where their tax dollars are going.
Need for regional and local detention strategies. It is no mystery Houstonians are extremely familiar with flooding either because storm-waters are unable to drain into channels and bayous, or the areas were structured before drainage was a criterion in the designs. Freeman (2012) explains an effectual resolution to flooding is to strive in the direction of regional and local detention strategies in areas having experienced first time flooding. When flooding occurs, rain overloads the storm-water system which causes it to back up. Freeman further explains that the detention areas will serve within the communities as smaller areas. They prevent the storm water system from overloading while keeping water out of homes and other structures. These detention areas can also improve the quality of life by serving as valuable parks and green spaces (Freeman, 2012).
Enhance the existing Comprehensive Drainage Plan (CDP). Freeman describes the CDP, developed in 2003, as a good plan already in place to help decrease the flooding problems in Houston, but is hindered by lack of adequate funding. It is better, and less expensive to build the drainage system infrastructures now than to have to rebuild later (Freeman, 2012).
Reorganization of neighborhood street reconstruction. Street reconstruction projects are drainage projects. Although many of Houston’s streets flood, residents know the water is better on the street than in the homes. Freeman (2012) clarifies as streets are reconstructed with open ditch drainages, and the lowering of street heights, a large quantity of retention space for storm-water runoff will help save residents from damage caused by flooding. Wait times must be streamlined and the reconstruction approach needs to be a drainage approach (Freeman, 2012).
The vigorous pursuit of grants allocated for small enhancements. For many residents living within areas affected repeatedly by flooding, an uncomplicated solution like elevating homes approximately six inches, or various minimal improvement projects might be the variation between a wet residence and a dry one after flooding. Pursuit of grants for these minor improvements would improve the devastation brought on by flooding (Freeman, 2012).
Buyouts of ineligible properties. Another solution described by Freeman to improve the drainage problems is an overall detention strategy to allow a federal buyout program. This is for vacant properties that have faced repeated flooding and cannot be developed because of restrictions in the floodplain ordinances. The funds can be used for local detention projects or mitigation that will help protect the people (Freeman, 2012). Freeman makes it clear that taking a proactive stance regarding the flooding/drainage issue can and will save taxpayers time, health issues, and money in the long run. The cost of rescuing victims after a flood takes a significant toll on public health when waters from storms contain many kinds of debris and pollutants that infiltrate the sanitary sewer system. When this occurs, it causes sewer lines to overflow into streets and structures where individuals must wade to safety. The damage of mold and other harmful substances are created as a result of flooding. Many times these damages disproportionately affect low-income citizens and the elderly (Freeman, 2012).
Economic, Political, and Legal Barriers of the Proposed Solution
What actually exists is the major challenge for Flood Preparedness Planning in Houston, Texas. This is the core capacities of the State and district authorities as well as the lack of resources to defend legal barriers to undertake implementation of the priority activities. In recent disasters here in Houston local resources and capacities are often disregarded, therefore relying heavily on outside support. The connections between disaster administration and the nationwide and local socio- monetary expansion processes are most often disregarded, resulting in re-creation of risks in an already flood prone communal disaster after disaster (Bedient, 2000). For a successful flood preparedness planning, it is influential to learn from the experiences and best practices for greater teamwork and material sharing to enhance the collaboration. Economically and politically the Nation needs to spread the resource base for more effective operation of flood preparedness programs in and outside Houston (Jack, William, & Bart, 2002).
How to Overcome the Barriers. Understanding natural disasters will never come complete with an outline to prevent them is the first step. Knowing that the risk of injury, damage, or importantly life can be prevented with effective evacuation plans, ecological planning, and design standards. The Hyogo Framework is a plan for natural disaster risk 168 governments adopted in January 2005. This was a 10 year global plan that offered guiding principles, priorities for action, and real-world means for accomplishing disaster flexibility for susceptible communities. History has shown the World that there no proven method preventing nature from taking its course. People have the technology to warn him or her that danger is approaching, but preventing them is still unanswered (Bedient, 2000). The wetland areas in Houston provide the best form of barrier by absorbing the floods, whereas other regions are not as successful. An acre of lowland can engross an excess of significant amounts of water totaling millions of gallons; this could easily overflow a communal neighborhood. Construction consisting of levees and dams, which also come with their disadvantages of collapsing or creation of establishments or streets in well- known flood areas can help avert impairments created by uncontrolled waters (Jack, William, & Bart, 2002). Spreading awareness through educating others Worldwide will be the best way to overcome these barriers sharing services and products to minimize damage caused by floods.
The Capital Improvement Plan
The main purpose of the Capital Improvement Plan is that it gives the City the appropriate tools to plan future capital improvement expenditures for storm sewers within the City. The Capital Improvement Plan locates and identifies the common characteristics of proposed drainage modifications or improvements for drainage systems that are considered to be inadequate. The City of Houston has its own design criteria for drainage and sewer systems. This designed criterion is then implemented within areas where sewage and drainage systems are in need of repair, as well as in areas where no sewage or drainage systems exist (City of Houston Texas, n.d.).
Reasons for Success. The proposed Capital Improvement Plan development procedures will improve the existing storm sewer systems in the Houston area as well as its surrounding areas. Modification of existing storm sewer system would involve increasing the diameter of the pipes. Concrete pipes or boxes will also be reinforced. For areas that are current drained by roadside ditches a new sewer system will replace the existing roadside ditch systems. These storm sewers will contain only the main sewer system also known as the trunk. This new improvement plan will improve the City of Houston’s flooding problem, which causes many homeowners and business owners thousands of dollars. This proposed plan will alleviate many flooding problems in the Houston area, but other future plans will also be proposed to decrease flooding in the City of Houston. Channel modifications and storm water detention basins are new plans that will also help the Houston area with flooding problems. Channel modification will include widening or deepening channels in the Houston so that rainfall has a place to go and decrease the flooding in homes and business. Storm water detention basins are also future projects that will help the Houston area retain water. The excavated land will be a good place for water to be retained and therefore will improve the flooding problems. The Capital Improvement Plan is a promising project that will benefit many Houstonians (City of Houston Texas, n.d.).
Conclusion
Flooding, especially for cities like Houston, will continue to be an ongoing problem to combat. As such it is imperative, as discussed in this paper, for policies and procedures to be put in place to work toward a sustainable solution. Considerable amounts of support, both monetary and political, will be necessary, but it is an achievable future wrought with endless possibilities provided everyone involved works together to accomplish it.

References
Bayou Preservation. (2012). Water issues on tap for upcoming legislative session. Retrieved from http://bayoupreservation.org/Default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Blackburn, J., & Dunbar, L. (2008). Houston's High Water Problems. Retrieved from http://www.thehoustonlawyer.com/aa_nov08/page18.htm
Buckhout, R. (1972). Pollution and the psychologist: A call to action. International Journal of Psychology, 35(1), 111-116.
City of Houston Texas. (n.d.). Comprehensive Drainage Plan. Retrieved from http://www.cohcdp.swmp.org/cdp/index.html
Floods and flash floods. (2012). Houston Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/health/OSPHP/Natural%20Disasters/Floods.pdf
Freeman, N. (2012). Solutions, not soundbytes. Retrieved from http://www.noelfreeman.com/solutions.html
Gilford, R. (1997). Environmental psychology (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Harris County Flood Control District. (2010). Our mission. Retrieved from http://www.hcfcd.org/mission.html
Harris County Flood District. (2010). Harris County's flooding history. Retrieved from http://www.hcfcd.org/hcfloodhistory.html
Publics Works. (2013). Public Works Divisions. Retrieved from http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/
Vlek, C. (2000). Essential psychology for environmental policy making. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 153-167.
Vlek, C., Hendrickx, L., & Steg, L. (1993). A social dilemmas analysis of motorized-transport Problems and six general strategies for social behavior change. In ECMT (Eds), Transport Policy and global warming (pp. 209-225). Paris: OECD Public Service.

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