Duncan talks drainage, partnerships and public safety

R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 11/28/20

Wendy Duncan was just reelected to the board of the Willow Fork Drainage District, a special purpose district set near the Barker Reservoir south of I-10 between the Grand Parkway and Highway 6. …

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Duncan talks drainage, partnerships and public safety

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Wendy Duncan was just reelected to the board of the Willow Fork Drainage District, a special purpose district set near the Barker Reservoir south of I-10 between the Grand Parkway and Highway 6. Duncan has served on the WFDD board since May of 2017 and is the board’s president. She is regularly seen in the community at public events providing updates to the public regarding drainage challenges and improvements for the eastern portion of the Katy area which also impact those portions of the region both upstream and downstream of the district in the Willowfork Watershed.

Q: Can you please explain in more detail what the WFDD is?

A: WFDD is a special purpose district led by a five-member resident Board of Directors elected every four years by voters within the district boundaries. The District was created to build and maintain the man-made drainage for over 5,700 acres in the Cinco Ranch, Kelliwood, Canyon Gate, Falcon Ranch, Parkway Oaks areas. In 2011, district residents approved expansion of WFDD’s operations to include construction and operation of parks and trails as allowed by the State Legislature. Residents also approved a bond to fund the district’s Master Parks Plan, which included 10 school-based parks and construction of Willow Fork Park, Central Green, Exploration Park and 19 additional miles of trails with mid-block crossings and safety signals. To help provide a nearby baseball complex to its residents, WFDD partnered with Fort Bend County to construct Freedom Park, which the county operates and maintains.  (The board) enjoys the collaborative work we do to keep our community strong through parks, trails, and drainage.

Q: What organizations does WFDD partner with and why are those partnerships important?

A: WFDD has many successful partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels. For certain areas, the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) provides oversight for our area, overseeing permitting to ensure adherence to environmental regulation and integrity of our system’s design as it relates to the entire watershed. We maintain good working relationships with state officials who responded after Hurricane Harvey with additional flood management funding by creating the Flood Infrastructure Fund. We are applying for a grant through this fund for a proposed project that will create additional flood protection for our area. Through a 50-year lease agreement, Willow Fork Park is an example of our partnership with Katy ISD. Central Green is an example of a beneficial public private partnership. This live entertainment venue attracts visitors to our area who in turn generate sales tax, a portion of which is used by Cinco MUD 12 to make general improvements to our community. Freedom Park was built by WFDD with an agreement that Fort Bend County provides ongoing maintenance of the facilities.

Q: What projects is WFDD currently undertaking to improve drainage and help its neighboring districts?

A: We have substantially repaired and restored the diversion channel (near Barker Reservoir) by removing approximately 350,000 cubic yards of debris. Work began immediately following Hurricane Harvey. In addition, WFDD is working on a pilot flood mitigation project with the USACE to (create more detention). East of Canyon Gate, 737 acres have been identified for additional storm water storage of which 200 acres have been selected for this project. WFDD is applying to the Flood Infrastructure Fund to assist in funding, which is (pending) Corps approval.

Q: Can you tell Katy Times readers about some of the larger projects (2-3) that WFDD has on the radar for the next couple of years and when they can see those projects start to take motion?

A: WFDD is in the process of adding mid-block crossings with safety signals to our trail system. The HAWK signals will alert oncoming motorists to pedestrians and cyclists crossing streets between major intersections. Design and engineering are being finalized for the Westheimer Parkway Underpass on our trail system located west of the intersection with Cinco Ranch Blvd. The community showed strong support for this project as a safer route to school to avoid crossing one of our community’s busiest streets. WFDD is working on partnering with various other governmental entities in the area to further fund and construct additional underpass crossings. In December, work will begin to add a shade structure to Central Green’s stage to provide improved shade and weather protection for performers.

Editor’s note: The responses above have been lightly edited to fit in the space allotted and to provide clarity such as in the first use of an acronym.

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