Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Amin Asfari


Harris County, Texas, experiences flooding almost every year, and the situation is getting worse. Uncontrolled development is leading to an increase in flooding events. This study investigated how rapid urbanization and sprawl led to a higher frequency and intensity of flooding in the Cypress Creek watershed in northern Harris County. According to urban ecology, the basis of the theoretical framework, the human actions on the environment are not just bystanders, but direct contributors as inputs. In this case, the outputs are the intensity of the flooding events caused by Hurricane Ike, the Memorial Day flood of 2016, and Hurricane Harvey. The human activities inputs are the construction of impervious surfaces and the lack of zoning that would typically contribute to the control of development. Harris County Texas does not have the authority to zone by state law. Thus, the issue is how the lack of zoning contributed to the flooding problems in the Cypress Creek watershed. Geographic Information Systems and a spatial-temporal design of the flood events were used to understand the effect of precipitation runoff compared to the land cover changes between Hurricane Ike, the Memorial Day flood, and Hurricane Harvey flood. The area of interest has seen a 27% increase in developed land, which has increased the velocity of runoff, causing over-taxation of the natural drainage networks. The increased flooding during Harvey inundated a hospital and a sheriff’s office, hampering citizens’ rescue efforts. By understanding the effects of increased development on flooding, social capital and equity will increase instead of being hindered by rebuilding or destroying older neighborhoods in the county.