Flood Risk Analysis Project Earns ACEC Texas Award

December 5, 2017

This year’s dramatic hurricane season and subsequent flooding events only reinforced the demand to accurately identify flood risks and needs. A recent Halff project—an award-winning project—has provided a solution.

The Water Resources practice was notified last week that it won a gold medal in the 2018 ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Awards competition. Halff was honored in the Surveying and Mapping Technology category for a web application tool developed for the Texas Water Development Board to identify, evaluate, and prioritize flood risk areas.

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The website allows authorized users to simulate and evaluate different watershed analysis scenarios on variable weight inputs.

Flood management is a shared responsibility enhanced by local, state, and federal partnerships. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently implementing the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program across the nation. As part of the Risk MAP process, FEMA, in partnership with the TWDB, initiated a Technical Pilot Project to gather readily available data to identify watersheds with the greatest risk and need for Risk MAP products. This effort, which can be used to identify and recommend FEMA Cooperating Technical Partners projects, was the TWDB’s first step in formulating a statewide plan.

The project team used current statewide datasets to develop the prioritization tool, which began as a GIS/spreadsheet-driven product but evolved into an active scenario web application accessed by authorized users. The primary benefit was the development of a comprehensive and cost-effective assessment tool to best direct where future funds should be spent. New analyses can be simulated at any time to determine how new information impacts the assessment rankings.