UTA researcher studying flood-control solutions for southeast Texas

Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 • Media Contact : Herb Booth

A University of Texas at Arlington researcher who has done extensive research on Texas watersheds received a $499,981 grant to analyze regional drainage and propose recommendations for future flood prevention in nine counties in southeast Texas.

Nick Fang
Nick Fang, UTA assistant professor of civil engineering, received a grant to study flooding, drainage and solutions in southeastern Texas.

The project will focus on organizing regional oversight and coordination of drainage infrastructure in Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Newton, Orange, Tyler, Polk, Liberty and Chambers counties.

“We will collect existing topographic and geographic information system data in these counties,” said Nick Fang, assistant professor of civil engineering. “We’ll then work with local communities and their leaders to use the data analysis to develop needed water strategies. What we are looking for are possible changes to coding and/or zoning practices that will prevent or lessen regional flooding damage from future natural disasters.”

UTA’s award is part of a $1.53 million grant from the Texas General Land Office to the University of Texas at San Antonio. Fang is working with Hatim Sharif, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UTSA, on data collection, community engagement, presentations and recommendations to both the General Land Office and local officials in the nine counties.

Ali Abolmaali, chair of the UTA Department of Civil Engineering, said Fang’s work has the potential to solve flooding problems across Texas.

“His research has the ability to change not only an area of Texas but the entire state,” Abolmaali said. “We can use the conclusions he comes up with here and apply them in other service areas. It could be life-changing in terms of saving property.”

Fang is involved in a number of flood-control projects. One involves conducting unmanned aerial vehicle research missions to gather data for flood prediction, water quality assessment and other water-related issues in north central Texas. He also has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve its watershed flood inundation mapping capabilities for better flood warning and mitigation. 

In North Texas, Fang is creating a water resources modeling tool that the Trinity River Authority of Texas will use to plan water movement, storage and use.

Fang has been working on surface water and groundwater problems for more than 15 years, including floodplain studies, hydrologic/hydraulic modeling, water resources management and planning, inland and coastal hydrodynamic simulation, storm water management modeling and water quality assessment for a number of watersheds and areas in Texas, Florida, Connecticut, California and Louisiana. Not only has he accomplished many projects in drainage modeling and design, but he has also actively worked in the area of hydrologic/hydraulic analysis for flood prediction and warnings.