Evaluating Water Quality and Flood Risk

Kennedale, Texas

Featured image for the project, Evaluating Water Quality and Flood Risk

Image courtesy of Francios De Kook with Halff and Associates, Dallas, Texas

Results

Project Title: Evaluating Water Quality and Flood Risk

Location: Kennedale, Texas

The Team:

  • Alex Sun, Research Scientist, Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin
  • Dennis Brown, Inspector, City of Kennedale
  • Rachel Roberts, Community Development Director, City of Kennedale
  • Bob Hart, City Manager, City of Kennedale

 

The Initial Challenge:

This project was launched to provide inputs on the city’s decision-making regarding water quality in Village Creek. The City of Kennedale sought a scientist to serve as an advisor during review and assessment of implementation and remediation plans for Village Creek and the surrounding area.

 

The Methods

This collaboration consisted of remote and in-person meetings, primarily focused on third-party review of reports from the University of Texas at Arlington and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

The Results

The Kennedale-TX project was plagued by extended delays in the reference reports, most notably the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 205 Flood Control Study. However, the team continued to touch base through the duration of the project to reflect on the status of the city’s efforts, and discuss actions undertaken by the City in parallel (e.g. Implementation of a FEMA buy-out grant to bring adjacent land back under city ownership, and consultation with attorneys to determine strategies for moving forward.)

Following release of the final reports, Alex Sun wrote a memorandum to the city with his technical assessment of the USACE report and recommendations for next steps. Alex found that some of the assumptions and data used for developing the base model used in the flooding analysis and modeling appeared to be weak or outdated, and resulted in opposing conclusions from a previous study conducted by a private engineering firm. He recommended that the City hire a hydrological modelling consultant to examine the flooding model more carefully.

Notably, during the period while the project team was waiting on release of the USACE report, a new city council was elected with different priorities from those who served during the initiation of this work. As a result, the remediation of the Village Creek Watershed has become a less immediate priority for the community. While action may be delayed, the city is committed to moving forward on this work. When the city is prepared to move forward with remediation of Village Creek, the City can rely on Alex’s analysis and insights as a source of contextualized, community-focused inputs to their technical questions and hit the ground running.

Description

The Challenge

Kennedale is a city of close to 8,000 residents in the southern Fort Worth-Dallas metropolitan region of Texas. Village Creek is a stream that runs through the community, flowing into Lake Arlington – a water supply source for nearly 500,000 residents in the region. Currently, the stream does not meet state and federal standards for water quality due to E. coli. Additional heavy metal contamination is suspected to derive from a variety of sources, including nearby septic tanks and six large auto salvage yards that reside in a floodplain within Kennedale that leads to Lake Arlington.

 

At this time, there are efforts underway to better assess the problem and how dramatically this pollution may be affecting the lake, an important water resource for the wider community. Kennedale has engaged the engineering department at the University of Texas at Arlington to conduct a sediment and water quality study to determine baseline conditions.   The city is also participating with Fort Worth, Arlington and the Trinity River Authority (TRA) to study the existing conditions of the Lake Arlington watershed under an EPA 319 funded study through the guidance of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Lastly, the city is working with the US Army Corps of Engineers on a Section 205 Flood Control study of the affected areas – with a final report due in May of this year.

Alex Sun will serve as an advising partner to the city as they develop implementation and remediation plans for Village Creek.

Within one to two months following the release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control report, the project team will work together to develop recommendations on prioritizing next steps. Ensuing measures may include anything from testing soil quality to identify the extent of environmental degradation, further flood modeling given potential changes to infill development, to assessing the difficulty of identifying the source of contaminants in the area.

Updates

TEX Partner, ICMA, highlights science impact in three ICMA communities

In their May 2017 of PM Magazine, TEX partner, the International City and County Management Association (ICMA), highlighted stories from three ICMA communities collaborating with TEX scientists. Bob Hart, formerly of Kennedale, TX (now with Corinth, TX), Laura Allen (Berlin, MD), and Becky Merrow (Colebrook, NH) describe how their scientific partners are helping their towns address critical community priorities. Click here to read the full article.

All updates for this project

Project Team

Community Leader

Rachel Roberts received her master’s degree in city and regional planning from University of Texas at Arlington in 2008. She has worked for the City of Kennedale since 2009 and is now the community Development Director, overseeing all planning work and the permits and code enforcement staff. She is the staff liaison for the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has received Congress of New Urbanism accreditation.

Bob Hart served as City Manager for the City of Kennedale from 2007-2017. He has served as City Manager in five other Texas cities and is an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Bob also served as President of the Innovation Groups, leading the organization to its transformation to the Alliance for Innovation (AFI), a nonprofit association dedicated to local government capacity building, organizational culture development, technology maximization, and networking. Today, Bob is the City Manager for Corrinth, Texas, but he continues to support and engage with the project team when possible.

 

Scientific Partner

Alexander Sun is a Research Scientists for the Bureau of Economic Geology and The University of Texas at Austin. In his current position he develops theoretical and analytical tools for predicting CO2 leakage into groundwater aquifers; conducting performance assessment of a proposed low-level radioactive waste repository in Texas. His research interests include sustainable water resources management, decision support systems, and contaminant source identification.