Campus News Weather

Students concerned with drainage, potential for future campus flooding

During Hurricane Harvey many areas of campus that were already prone to being puddles turned into ponds with the flooding. |File Photo/The Cougar

UH students know how rainy Houston can get. At the drop of a hat, UH can be drenched by a downpour, leading to puddles and flooded sidewalks across campus. 

Houston gets so much rain, it is comparable to a tropical monsoon climate. On average, Houston has at least eight rainy days each month and gets upwards of four inches of rain.

“I pay a lot of money for the school. I’d rather not walk through an ocean every time it rains more than a couple of hours,” said creative writing junior Michelle Stephens. “We have to avoid some pretty deep water.”

Executive Director of Facilities Services Jeffrey Benjamin said this is a general problem Houston has, and UH is just one of the many places in the city that experiences this.

“There are some areas on campus that hold water after heavy rains, but this is not unique to our campus,” Benjamin said. “Clay-based soil and aging infrastructure contributes to drainage issues all across the city.”

Computer engineering senior Bruno Cabete said he occasionally has trouble getting into certain buildings, and he dislikes the mud that accumulates in the parking lots.

“The sidewalks get really slippery,” Cabete said. “I wish they would repave the lots or the sidewalks.”

Houston floods four to five days a year, on average. Since the 1970s, there have been at least 26 events that have completely flooded homes in the Houston metro area according to a report by the Weather Research Center. Flooding can occur any time of year, regardless of the season. 

Houston is only about 50 feet above sea level, much lower than other major U.S. cities of comparable size. The flat, low-lying land leads to complications in the drainage of floodwater. There is little to no slope going out to Galveston Bay, so water gets backed up all over Houston.

“It’s hard to tell just how flooded the sidewalks are sometimes,” said English junior Rhiannon Schilling. “And walking on the grass isn’t much better.”

UH Facilities does, however, put in time to make sure flooding on campus does not get too problematic. Facilities often cleans out storm drains so water flows better and improves the drainage issues overall. It also does maintenance on the sidewalks like students have been asking.

“We have even changed the slope of sidewalks to enable better drainage,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said any students who have problems with drainage or leakage can contact FIX-IT, which is the best way to bring attention to larger drainage issues on campus and have them quickly resolved. He also said drainage will be less and less of a problem as the UH campus continues to develop and add new advancements to the infrastructure.

“As our campus continues to grow, new Facilities projects typically include more sustainable storm water runoff plans,” Benjamin said. “We’re excited about these developments.”

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