Flash flooding last week in Fort Worth that resulted in 45 weather-related emergency calls highlighted the city’s biggest water problem, but the cost to fix it won’t be cheap – an estimated $1 billion, on top of the $1.17 billion being spent on Panther Island, a controversial economic development project also promoted as a help in alleviating flooding caused by the Trinity River.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram pointed out that residents may be questioning whether Panther Island is worth the cost, given that hard rains frequently threaten to flood homes in the area.
The newspaper said an older – and too-small – stormwater system can’t handle the runoff from heavier downpours, noting that much more of the city is now covered by concrete than when the pipes were installed decades ago.
Fort Worth City Council member Dennis Shingleton said, “I just don’t think that’s practical” on the $1 billion estimate to solve that problem.
A solution proposed in neighborhoods such as Arlington Heights is to buy out homeowners in flood plains and replace those structures with green spaces that would retain more stormwater.
Michael Matos, a candidate for the council’s District 7, which includes Arlington Heights, told the Star-Telegram that Panther Island is a distraction to the bigger issue of flash flooding.
“We need a real solution to this real problem,” he said. “We can’t piecemeal this together. It has to be systematic.”
Panther Island is partially federally funded and a piece of a bigger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to address outdated levees.