Barker Reservoir

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Barker Reservoir
Barker Reservoir.jpg
Location of Barker Reservoir in Texas, USA.
Location of Barker Reservoir in Texas, USA.
Barker Reservoir
Location of Barker Reservoir in Texas, USA.
Location of Barker Reservoir in Texas, USA.
Barker Reservoir
LocationHouston, Texas,
United States
Coordinates29°46′11″N 95°38′47″W / 29.769674°N 95.646335°W / 29.769674; -95.646335Coordinates: 29°46′11″N 95°38′47″W / 29.769674°N 95.646335°W / 29.769674; -95.646335
Basin countriesUnited States

Barker Reservoir is a flood control structure in Houston, Texas which prevents downstream flooding of Buffalo Bayou, the city's principal river. The reservoir operates in conjunction with Addicks Reservoir to the northeast, which impounds Mayde and Bear Creeks, two tributaries of the Buffalo. Both reservoirs were authorized under the Rivers and Harbors Act of June 20, 1938, which were modified by the Flood Control Acts of August 11, 1938; September 3, 1954; and October 27, 1965.

George Bush Park, operated by Harris County, is located entirely within the reservoir.[1]

Houston annexed the Addicks area in 1972.[2]


Barker Reservoir is southwest of the intersection of Interstate 10 and State Highway 6, about one mile (1.6 km) south of Addicks in western Harris County.

The Barker Reservoir spillway is located at 29°46′10.86″N 95°38′47.09″W / 29.7696833°N 95.6464139°W / 29.7696833; -95.6464139.

The Barker Dam and Reservoir is named for the community of Barker, Texas. In 1895, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad laid tracks and began operating through Barker. The town was named for the track laying contractor Ed. Barker.[3]

Aerial view of the Barker Reservoir spillway in 2016, looking southeast.


Barker Reservoir is formed by a rolled earthen dam 72,900 feet (22,200 m) long. A 12-foot-wide (3.7 m) gravel road extends along the top of the dam. The top of the dam has a maximum elevation of 112.5 feet (34.3 m) above the N.G.V.D. and is 36 feet high in places.[4] The maximum storage capacity of the reservoir is 209,000 acre-feet (258,000,000 cubic metres; 258 gigalitres),[5] Combined with the adjacent Addicks Reservoir to the northeast, the total storage capacity is about 410,000 acre-feet (510,000,000 m3; 510 GL).[6]

From 2008 to 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District implemented $4.4 million in interim risk reduction measures (at Addicks and Barker dams) to address deficiencies until long-term solutions could be identified and executed. In 2014, staff completed a Dam Safety Modification Study to evaluate long-term repairs and address issues associated with the dams. Staff presented this information during a public meeting October 29 at Bear Creek Community Center in Houston to discuss these plans and gather feedback. Construction is scheduled to begin May 2015 with an estimated completion date of 2019.[citation needed]


It is estimated the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, along with other federal construction projects on Lower Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries, will prevent average annual flood damages of $16,372,000 to the city of Houston. Addicks and Barker provide no flood reduction benefits to properties upstream of the dams and reservoirs.[citation needed]


During and after Hurricane Harvey, 7,000 acres of private upstream land was submerged by floodwaters held back and controlled by the Addicks and Barker dams.[7] A series of lawsuits were filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) after this flooding.[8] The CFC selected thirteen property owners to serve as tests cases in a bellwether trial to determine liability.[9] The CFC also appointed attorneys Armistead Easterby, Daniel Charest, and Charles Irvine as Co-Lead Counsel for upstream plaintiffs.[10]

Federal Claims Judge Charles Lettow presided over the May 2019 liability trial, which was held in Houston, Texas.[11] On December 17, 2019, the CFC held that the upstream flooding constituted a Fifth Amendment taking.[12]

Buffalo Bayou & Tributaries Resiliency Study Interim Report[edit]

In October 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published an Interim Report regarding the Addicks and Barker dams and reservoirs.[13] The Interim Report states that high reservoir water levels resulting from the Army Corp's operation of the Addicks and Barker dams "pose unacceptable risks to health and human safety, private property, and public infrastructure," and that "future economic damages from flooding are likely" in the upstream area.[14] The Interim Report further indicates that there is inadequate government-owned real estate for dam operations, as more than 20,000 homes and 24,000 parcels of privately-owned upstream land are within the areas subject to government-induced flooding.[15] The total acquisition cost to acquire these lands would be approximately $10 billion.[16]


  1. ^ "George Bush Park". Harris County Precinct 3. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  2. ^ Lee, Renée C. "Annexed Kingwood split on effects." Houston Chronicle. Sunday October 8, 2006. A21. Retrieved on July 6, 2011. Print version exclusively has the information cited; the information is not included in the online edition.
  3. ^ Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas Online by Atha Marks Dinman
  4. ^ Rogers, Adam (29 August 2017). "With Harvey, Imperfect Engineering Meets a Perfect Storm". Wired. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  5. ^ Addicks and Barker Reservoirs - Reservoir Information Archived 2009-06-18 at the Wayback Machine United States Army Corps of Engineers. Last accessed July 3, 2009.
  6. ^ Barker Reservoir, Handbook of Texas Online, 2008. Last accessed July 3, 2009.
  7. ^ Cavender, Anthony. "Court of Federal Claims: Upstream Hurricane Harvey Case Will Proceed to Trial". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  8. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella. "Their Neighborhood was flooded to save Houston". Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  9. ^ Langford, Cameron. "Trial Over Hurricane Flooding in Houston Wraps Up". Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  10. ^ Ward, Alyson. "Lead attorneys appointed in Hurricane Harvey flood litigation". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  11. ^ Banks, Gabrielle. "Harvey Victims tell judge no one told them they were living in a designated flood pool, say government is liable". Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  12. ^ Lettow, Charles. "Post-Trial Decision; Government-Induced Flooding on Private Property". U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Interim Report" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Interim Report" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Interim Report" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Interim Report" (PDF).

External links[edit]