A top official at the Tarrant Regional Water District has been selected to serve on a committee charged with eventually developing Texas’ first-ever statewide flood plan.
Rachel Ickert, TRWD’s water resource engineering director, was selected by the Texas Water Development Board to serve on a regional planning group that will work on a flood-control blueprint for the Trinity River basin, which stretches from North Texas to near the Gulf Coast.
The Trinity regional flood plan, due to be completed in January 2023, will then become a part of the state’s inaugural flood plan that is expected to be adopted by September 2024.
“I am honored and excited because I do think it is important work that will benefit people in the communities in our region and across the state,” Ickert said in a water district news release. “We can’t mitigate all flooding, but we need to understand the flood risks we can mitigate.”
After Hurricane Harvey, Texas decided to institute regional, watershed-based flood planning. The state’s approach mirrors its water supply planning and development process, which takes regional water plans and collects them to create a state-wide water plan.
The TWBD created 15 flood-planning regions with 12 voting members serving on each planning group. The state received more than 600 nominations for the 180 positions.
Each planning group represents various constituencies including the public, counties, municipalities, industries, agriculture, environment, river authorities, flood districts and water utilities.
The overarching goal of each regional planning group is to develop a flood plan that adequately provides for the protection of life and property without negatively affecting neighboring areas.
In the 1980s, North Central Texas established the Trinity River Common Vision which facilitates intergovernmental collaboration to provide floodplain management to decrease flooding risks. Ickert said it could serve as a model for the rest of the state, the news release said.
“The big effort will be to get everyone on the same page using the same baseline and being consistent in determining flood risk throughout the regions first and then the state,” Ickert said.
Ickert is a professional engineer who leads the TRWD’s Water Resources Engineering Division, a team of engineers, technicians and analysts that manages water supply sources for over two million people in Fort Worth and the surrounding area.
Her team also provides flood modeling and monitoring for TRWD’s four water supply reservoirs – Eagle Mountain, Bridgeport, Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers. TRWD’s primary focus during a flooding event is public safety and communicating with partner agencies.
Ickert received her bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University and a master’s of science in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.
She also was an active member of the Texas Water Conservation Association Flood Response Committee that prepared white papers for state lawmakers in the 86th Legislative session.