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Amarillo housing development growth continues near playa lake

Construction for the Greenways housing development continues near a playa lake that's been known to flood during rainy weather. (ABC 7 Amarillo-Tiffany Lester)

Despite the recent dry spell, ABC 7 News is taking a look at current construction happening near a playa lake that's been known to flood during rainy weather.

The Greenways is expanding on South Loop 335 near Hillside Road.

A few years ago, storms caused major flooding in the area and the new construction may create concern for some area residents.

Construction crews moved large mounds of dirt on Thursday as part of The Greenways development expansion.

It's an area that has a history of flooding during severe weather since it surrounds Playa Lake 7.

Amarillo City Engineer Kyle Schniederjan tells ABC 7 News he works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to map out the 100-year flood plain boundary, based on historical rainfall percentages in our area, that developers cannot build in.

“That is the statistical boundary based on one percent chance that in any given year, there would be a single event that could raise the water to that level,” said Schniederjan. “What we had in 2015, was repetitive events that brought the level well above the 100-year flood boundary.”

And while it's been dry in the Texas Panhandle lately, Schneiderjan said it could happen again.

“There is a theoretical storm, a catastrophic event, that could exceed the boundary of that lake, but that's just what it is, a catastrophic event,” said Schniederjan.

For folks who may be concerned with future flooding in the area because of the new construction, Schneiderjan said the model is based on the assumption of a fully developed neighborhood.

He added it shouldn't have any impact on flooding of homes, businesses, or even South Loop 335.

The Greenways is right on the edge of the Playa Lake 7 flood boundary.

It's something he said is not unusual for the majority of homes in Amarillo.

“There are 63 playa lakes within city limits, so you're actually hard pressed to buy a house that's not in a playa lake boundary,” said Schniederjan.

Development is key for a constantly growing city like Amarillo, but Schniederjan tells ABC 7 News he encourages home buyers and builders to ask questions and do risk assessment on potential home locations.

He said the city is able to pump water from flooded playa lake areas when necessary, but that it takes a lot of time, resources, and money from the taxpayers to do so.

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