By Betsy Dolan
In the event of a flooding emergency, the City of Sugar Land, Fort Bend County and nine Levee Improvement Districts are better positioned to work together after an almost two year effort to streamline the communication process.
“We wanted to identify the gaps and the roles and responsibilities for each entity in a flooding emergency,” said Chris Steubing, City Engineer. “We wanted to make sure the city, the county and the LID’s weren’t overlapping.”
The primary component of the new process is NIMS–National Incident Management System–which the City of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County utilize in emergency management scenarios. The NIMS Incident Command System is being used as the blueprint for any size flooding emergency to insure that all critical areas are being addressed.
“If there is a levee failure, the levee districts are not going to have to deal with the emergency reaction to it such as evacuation. The city will handle that. That’s why we have to be working together. We’ve got to have clear communication,” said Alan Bogard, Sugar Land’s City Manager.
Tapping into the expertise of the levee district operators and engineers was important, Steubing said, because “they know their structures inside and out.” The LID’s were instrumental in providing critical river elevations included in the flooding emergency plan while city engineers are responsible for classifying an event into one of three emergency levels.
“All entities are working from the same place,” Steubing said. “From now on everybody will be speaking a common terminology.”
Drought Contingency Plan Revised
Lessons learned from the 2011 has resulted in a revised Drought Contingency Plan for the City of Sugar Land.
“Our revised plan has only three stages, is much simpler to understand, and will promptly decrease consumption in a water crisis,” said SuEllen Staggs, Director of Utilities.
Stage I mandatory outdoor restrictions are triggered when water demands require production to increase to 65 percent of the system’s capacity for three consecutive days. Stage I restrictions limit landscape irrigation to only two designated days for residential, commercial and roadways.
If Stages II and III of the drought plan are triggered at 70 and 80 percent of capacity, respectively, limits on outdoor water use will be increased, progressing to one day per week in Stage II and no outdoor water use in stage III.
Neighborhoods in Sugar Land will be included in one of four irrigation zones. Each neighborhood zone will be assigned two watering days, either Wednesday and Sunday or Tuesday and Saturday. Citizens will be expected to comply with these designated watering days during Stage I implementation of the drought plan.
Commercial customers and roadways also have specific irrigation schedules limited to two days per week. Designated watering days will disperse irrigation use resulting in reduced daily water demands and stresses on the water system.