Fix Houston

How to Fix Our Bayou System

Does widening the bayous really work?

By Gwendolyn Knapp January 30, 2020 Published in the February 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Max Burkhalte

"The bayou has its own dynamic system," says Susan Chadwick, executive director of Save Buffalo Bayou. "Banks will collapse, fill with sediment, and do what they need to do to adjust flow.” Chadwick believes we should let bayous work their magic naturally, rather than waste tax dollars on deepening and widening them, which she compares to building bigger highways. “It just encourages more traffic”—or, in this case, more stormwater, which could ultimately make flooding worse. As Houstonians, we need to educate ourselves about how bayous work, and the harsh realities our city is facing because of them. “Sometimes we have to move out of the way,” she says. “We’ve built a lot of houses and buildings where they shouldn’t be, and maybe we’re just going to have to leave some places green.” 

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