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Effect of Land Use Change on Flows and Floodplains in the Houston Area

April 20, 2017
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Dr. Francisco Olivera
Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University

Associate Professor


The effect of urbanization on stream flows and floodplain extent in the rapidly developing Whiteoak and Sims Bayou watersheds in the Houston area, Texas, is studied. The evolution of development and impervious cover over time was determined using parcel data, provided by the corresponding appraisal districts, and aerial photography. Also, the evolution of the annual stream-flow volume over time was studied, and found to have a statistically significant increasing trend. A similar analysis of the annual instantaneous peak flows showed that, although an increasing trend in their values is not apparent, there is a statistically discernible increase in their variability. As expected, strong relationships between the annual stream flow volume and the annual instantaneous peak flow, and the impervious cover were found. For the Sims Bayou watershed, it was found that, for the 100-yr storm event, the area flooded increased from 6,500 acres in 1980 to 7,500 acres in 2000. Assuming that residential parcels have an area between 0.12 and 0.30 acres, it translates into 21,900 residential parcels completely or partially within the 100-yr floodplain in 1980; and 25,400 in 2000. In other words, because of development in the 1980s and 1990s, around 3,500 homes were added to the 100-yr floodplain. Although development is needed to accommodate population and employment growth, the negative consequences to people and the built environment can be devastating. Local government implementation of low-impact development policies, that reduce the effect of urbanization on the watershed’s hydrology and hydraulics, is indispensable if these negative effects are to be reduced.


Dr. Francisco Olivera is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at TAMU. Prior to joining the TAMU faculty in 2001, he was a Lecturer and Research Scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, his M.S. in Hydraulic Engineering from the International Institute for Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE) in Delft in 1988, and his Professional Degree in Civil Engineering from the Catholic University of Peru in Lima in 1981. His expertise is in the application of Geographic Information Systems to water resources engineering. Dr. Olivera has presented his work at universities and research institutions and taught short courses in the US and other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Finland, Morocco, Peru, Portugal and Spain. He is/was Associate Editor of the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, the Journal of Earth Sciences and the Revista Ingenieria del Agua.


Dr. Michael Bishop: michael.bishop@tamu.edu


April 20, 2017
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Eller O&M Bldg., Room 807