What is Subsidence?
Subsidence literally means that the ground is sinking, but don’t worry, the NFBWA has a plan to protect our fast-growing area.
Stop the Sinking
Subsidence is the gradual sinking or settling of the ground over time. This sinking occurs when water is withdrawn from the ground faster than it is replenished, causing the soil to physically compact. Soil compaction is not fully reversible, so prevention is key because subsidence can cause significant flooding and costly infrastructure damage.
The Houston Region boomed in the early 1900’s. The oil and gas industry took off, the ship channel was broadening, and people were moving to the area. Consequently, groundwater levels began to decline in response to a large increase in the usage of groundwater.
Groundwater pumpage was not regulated until 1975, and by that time, some areas in the Houston Region had already sunk more than 10 feet. The regional water authorities, including the North Fort Bend Water Authority "NFBWA", were created to protect our area from future subsidence and preserve our groundwater resources for generations to come.
Subsidence Hits Close to Home: Brownwood Development
A prime example of subsidence in our community is the former Brownwood development. Brownwood was a community founded in 1938 of about 500 single-family houses constructed on beautiful wooded lots along Galveston Bay. Brownwood was originally 10 feet above sea level, but by 1978, subsidence caused the ground to sink more than 8 feet.
Twelve inches of rain fell on the subdivision in 1979, flooding the area. In 1983, Hurricane Alicia struck a final blow, and all homes in Brownwood were abandoned.
Today, the swampy area has been converted to the Baytown Nature Center.
What can we do to prevent subsidence?
Population and water usage in our area continues to grow, which is why our projects are critical to supply a plentiful surface water source to the area while reducing groundwater pumpage.
You can partner with us to prevent subsidence by conserving water in your home and outdoors.