1997 Finalist
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Texas
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

The Trinity River flows through nine cities in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex. Its flood plain includes more than 12,000 houses and over 140 million square feet of commercial property. Were it to flood, the result would be over four billion dollars in damage and an untold loss of life. For over a century, the region's dream was to turn the Trinity into a navigable canal that barges could use to transport goods over 300 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. As that dream faded, requests to develop the Trinity's flood plain began to pour in.

The COMMON VISION Program (CVP) is a proactive solution to the potentially hazardous development on the Trinity's flood plain. CVP focuses on the future of the Trinity River through a five-part philosophy. The common vision is for the Trinity to be: safe, by reducing and stabilizing flood risks; clean, with fishable and swimmable waters; enjoyable, with recreational opportunities linked by a major trail system; natural, with preserves and environmental restoration; and diverse, with local and regional public needs addressed.

The linchpin of CVP is the Corridor Development Certificate (CDC) process. Through this certification, CVP has united nine cities within three separate counties under a single criteria, process and policy. The creation of a unifying development certificate was first supported by a study conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, who showed that the continuation of piecemeal development in the flood corridor would make the potential damages much higher.

CVP first used a state-of-the-art Geographical Information Mapping System, which graphically described the flood corridor. This process involved mapping nearly 76,000 buildings, numerous roadways and other important engineering details with topography mapping techniques down to two-foot intervals. This information was then used to make projections for different flood scenarios by both public and private firms. CDC permits are issued by local governments and then scrutinized by CVP standards, the Army Corps of Engineers, and fellow local governments within the corridor.

CVP's success can be measured by the results of its multifaceted approach. It has succeeded in creating a network of trails and recreational areas along nearly 250 miles of the Trinity River's banks. This development represents a safe, low impact occupation of the flood plain that serves the public interest in an economically safe manner. The ongoing scrutiny of the development of remaining lands has successfully ensured that the possible impact of future floods will not increase. Additionally, the successful partnership between government entities of differing regional and functional jurisdictions has attracted a high level of funding, ensuring future efforts.