Orange County commissioners agreed Tuesday to jointly apply for a grant with the county’s Economic Development Corporation to simplify the initial steps for a levee planning and feasibility study.

A $250,000 grant is available from the Texas Water Development Board. The county will eventually have to match that.

The corporation has retained the Beaumont engineering firm Carroll and Blackman. Working with Carroll and Blackman are Beaumont’s Leap Engineering and the Costello firm of Houston.
All three have extensive backgrounds in building and constructing levees and managing levee improvement, corporation Executive Director Bobby Fillyaw said.

The Orange County Drainage District has also agreed to be a partner in the grant application process, Fillyaw said.

“By virtue of the county’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program … that is a key factor [to jointly apply],” he told commissioners. “You get more points as an applicant if you’re a member that participates in the NFIP.

“This way we don’t have to go through the process of the county hiring an engineering firm and going through the whole process that [the corporation] already had to do. It just simplifies everything.”

The study will occur in several phases, he said.

“This process is enormous,” he said. “Just the engineering study alone could be about $6 million … The thing about this initial grant is that it’s going to identify kind of a rough scale of where a system would be effective within the county and different options that would be out there.”

Next would be a feasibility study. 

“It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to build a $100 million levee and you’re only protecting $10 million worth of stuff behind it,” he said.
Other funds for the project might be found in Hurricane Ike mitigation grants, he said.