This page highlights the Leon Valley, Texas High Water Mark (HWM) Project that took place on January 9, 2016. This page is intended for local officials, emergency management personnel, and community leaders as well as FEMA Regions, and federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local entities.
The City of Leon Valley is a small central Texas community located near San Antonio. While only 13 percent of the population of Leon Valley lives in a Special Flood Hazard Area, community officials recognize that the entire community is susceptible to flooding. The City of Leon Valley’s proactive approach to flood risk awareness led them to be the first HWM Initiative community in Region VI.
Overflow from nearby Zarzamora and Huebner Creeks frequently causes flooding during rain events. One such memorable moment occurred on October 17, 1998, when high water from Huebner Creek rose above six feet. Certain areas in Leon Valley, like Raymond Rimkus Park, are particularly susceptible to flooding. This area experienced flooding more than 20 times in 2015.
Launch Event Activities
The City of Leon Valley held a HWM launch event on Saturday, January 9, 2016, with Mayor Chris Riley as host. In advance of the event, a HWM sign was erected in a prominent location along a walking path in Raymond Rimkus Park. Along with unveiling the sign, the event kicked off a new initiative reminding residents of the community’s flood risks. Attendees learned about the local watershed and its flooding history.
Leon Valley’s Fire Chief, Luis Valdez, led the effort and worked with FEMA Region VI on the community’s HWM project. Other community members and officials made up the project team including: Melinda Moritz, Director of Public Works; David Dimaline, Assistant Director of Public Works and Certified Floodplain Manager; Elizabeth Carol, Community Development Director; Bill Lawson, Assistant Fire Chief; and Darrick Green, Communications Director.
The HWM launch event was attended by many local, regional, and state stakeholders, including:
- David Jordan (Leon Valley City Council);
- Kelly Kuenstler (Leon Valley City Manager); and
- San Antonio River Authority representatives.
Mitigation Action Update
As part of the City of Leon Valley’s ongoing mitigation and risk communication efforts, the City has begun an $11 million floodplain improvement project in cooperation with Bexar County Flood Control. This project has resulted in reducing the floodplain for 53 structures, installing three new sensors along the creeks, automatic text alerts to residents living near the creeks, adopting higher standards, developing flood impact maps to inform response efforts, and partnering with developers to create storm water detention ponds. Additional mitigation activities include:
- The City of Leon Valley has created a Flood Emergency Response Plan to help reduce the risk to people and property during a flood event through advance warning and communication. As part of this effort, a door-to-door outreach campaign was conducted.
- The community was also able to successfully petition the City of San Antonio to change their Unified Development Code to require mandatory detention in the Huebner Creek watershed upstream of the City of Leon Valley.
Resulting Media Coverage
The City of Leon Valley HWM event was featured in articles and videos by several local media outlets, including:
Leon Valley Earns FEMA Designation - Fox San Antonio
Leon Valley first in Texas to be part of High Water Mark Initiative - KSAT/ABC San Antonio
Leon Valley’s high water mark could save lives - News 4 San Antonio