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Apr 1, 2007

Sierra Club Sues to Block Flood Map

The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit challenging a portion of the new Harris County (Houston) Flood Map, an action officials warn could delay adopting the maps countywide.

More from the Houston Chronicle:

If the new maps are delayed, flood-control officials say, developers will be able to build in flood-prone areas based on outdated, 30-year-old flood plain information. Flood officials want to adopt the new maps, then revise the one for the Cypress Creek area.

The Sierra Club has brought its lawsuit because it also is concerned about development in flood-prone areas. It alleges that even the proposed Cypress Creek flood map might allow development on 5,000 acres of wetlands in the Katy Prairie, home to one of North America's largest flocks of wintering migratory waterfowl.

Heather Saucier, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Flood Control District, which helped develop the maps, called the lawsuit "a disgrace to taxpayers." Her colleague, Fred Garcia, said the lawsuit is "frivolous" because the district and FEMA will issue a corrected map of Cypress Creek shortly.

The map that the Sierra Club opposes designates more land around the creek as flood-prone than the existing 1985 map, which means development restrictions are stricter, Garcia said.

After Tropical Storm Allison struck the area, FEMA and the Harris County Flood Control District each chipped in $15 million to redraw the area's flood maps.

See also: Waterfront Property May Be Closer Than You Think.

Photo: Relief efforts following Tropical Storm Allison; Courtesy of FEMA.

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