HOUSTON (FOX 26) - There can be no conversation of Harris County's future without including the implications of its catastrophic recent past.
Six percent of homes here were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. Today Harris County's elected leader Judge Ed Emmett pledged to be "the loud voice" leading a costly, but necessary crusade aimed at prevention and protection from catastrophe.
"The federal and state governments will not send enough financial help to do everything that is needed in our area. Harris County taxpayers will be asked in the not too distant future to fund a specific list of flood control projects," said Emmett.
As much as $2 billion worth, funded by the issuance of voter approved bonds.
"Why? Because I fear many Americans and others perceive Houston and Harris County as a flood prone swamp. We must act quickly to change that perception," said Emmett.
A new, third reservoir is yet another critical component of Emmett's action plan. It's infrastructure he believes the state should pay for from the $10 billion "Rainy Day" fund the ferocious Houston economy has done much to fill.
"They can do that," said Emmett to heavy applause from the Greater Houston Partnership crowd.
It will be hundreds of millions of dollars Houston lawmakers must knock loose from the legislature without the help of out-going House Speaker Joe Strauss.
In what amounted to a highly symbolic political subplot, the standard bearer of moderate GOP leadership in Texas pushed back against the far more strident conservative philosophy of Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick by lavishing praise on his ally Emmett
"He doesn't pander or grandstand. He doesn't invent controversy just to stir people up. Instead, he leads," said Straus.
Currently limited to revenue from property tax, Emmett underscored the need for an additional future funding source with a demographic fact -- the total population of unincorporated Harris County, outside of any municipal boundary has grown large enough to make it the fifth largest city in America.