HOUSTON — Large-scale projects long considered essential to easing Houston’s flooding problems went to the top of the to-do list after Hurricane Harvey inundated large swaths of the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Seven months later, local officials are still looking for funding to undertake plans that include a new reservoir, deeper and wider bayous and a costal barrier system – all of which have fallen victim to a lack of money or political will in the past.

Yet local leaders insist this time will be different, saying they’re committed to making the projects a reality, even as they wait to find out how much money they might get from the state and federal governments and whether local taxpayers will be willing to help out.

“There’s been a whole lot of talk over the years, but now it’s time to get it done in the post-Harvey era,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a recent community meeting.

One thing that’s giving Turner and others hope is that billions of federal dollars have been allocated to pay for flood-mitigation projects. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has promised $1 billion for areas affected by Harvey, although Houston will be competing with other Texas communities for that funding. Congress in February provided $15 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood-control projects nationwide, some of which could go to the Houston area.

Houston, which was founded on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou around the mid-1800s and rises barely above sea level, has long been susceptible to flooding. But recent growth has made the problem worse. The area has more pavement, which generates more stormwater runoff, and has lost wetlands that could soak up that runoff.

Big projects Houston-area officials are eying include building a third reservoir for the area, at a cost of about $500 million. They also want to complete the excavation and widening of six local bayous, a $1.3 billion project, part of which has proceeded in fits and starts for more than 20 years because of inconsistent funding. And they want to undertake a project known as the costal spine, which was first proposed after Hurricane Ike in 2008. That $6 billion to $10 billion project proposes barriers to protect the area from storm surge coming into Galveston Bay.

This “will be very different than the last several decades when things were thought of but never actually executed,” said Marvin Odum, Houston’s Hurricane Harvey recovery czar.

Whichever projects are ultimately funded, they will likely take years to build.

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