By Lawanda Maxwell, MBA
The West Houston Association’s Tri-County Judges Forum was held virtually on June 11th, 2020 featuring a panel of local county judges – Judge Duhon of Waller County, Judge Hidalgo of Harris County, and Judge George of Fort Bend County. Each judge provided updates on county initiatives and their collaborative efforts on issues pertinent to the region, including mobility, infrastructure, flooding, and COVID-19. Heath Melton, Board Chairman of the West Houston Association, moderated the panel with questions from attendees.
Judge Duhon talked about the importance of taking a regional approach when it comes to flooding. “Flood waters do not care about county boundaries,” said Duhon. He is also seeking funding from the Texas Water Development Board’s Flood Infrastructure Fund to complete studies on four of the seven water sheds in Waller County that have not been tested. The studies will provide value to the entire region. “The good thing about these studies is that the information can be used by our neighbors.”
Judge Hidalgo gave an update on her administration’s early childhood education initiatives. Hidalgo also addressed flooding: “This year we’re on track to bid over a half a billion dollars on flood control. We continue to move our drainage projects at top speed.” She also discussed the county’s adoption of the NOAA Atlas 14 Rainfall rates to inform decisions, and Harris County’s efforts to work with other counties to make sure that “as we build we don’t flood people downstream.”
Judge George talked about the challenges that Fort Bend County is facing due to the current pandemic. He also discussed ways Fort Bend is addressing flooding and mobility. “Last year we passed a bond to address some of our selective drainage issues… whether it’s a local project or TxDOT, we need to ensure that the drainage standards are up to date,” said George. Additionally, he is interested in creating a regional public transportation network to solve mobility issues in the region.
Despite the challenges each county is facing, the judges ensured the audience that they are continuing to address issues pertinent to West Houston. “Challenges are opportunities,” said George. The judges elaborated on ways that they are collaborating with other counties to solve infrastructure, mobility, and drainage issues.
The event also featured an update from Rob Bamford, Chair of the WHA of Quality Planned Development (QPD) committee, who discussed the importance of quality growth across the region. The QPD designation “represents a mindful approach to land development, communities, and lifestyles,” said Bamford. The deadline for submitting projects for consideration for the QPD designation is September 1st.
In total, 167 people attended the Tri-County Judges Forum. The next West Houston Association event is the Blues to Greens Forum: New Idea’s in Recreation and Conservation which will be taking place on July 23rd from 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., followed by the West Houston Flood Control Forum on August 4th.
Special thanks to the event sponsors:
The Howard Hughes Corporation, BGE, Allen Boons Humphries Robinson LLP (ABHR), Newland, ExxonMobil, SPH (Schwartz, Page, and Harding), Johnson Development Corp, EHRA Engineering, IDS Engineering Group, LJA Engineering, Inframark, RG Miller Engineers, Jones Carter, and Dannenbaum.