The Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. Our main economic sectors agriculture, retail service, manufacturing industries, tourism, and commercial fishing all depend on reliable, good quality water supplies.
The Rio Grande is our main source of water. Drought, international treaty issues, and increased demand are impacting long-term water availability. Because of this, the LRGVDC is leading efforts to develop strategies for long-term water supply alternatives.
The LRGVDC serves as administrative agent for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. RGRWPG is one of 16 regional groups set up under state law to conduct long-range analysis of water needs and develop water management strategies to meet those needs. The RGRWPG covers eight counties along the mid and lower Rio Grande: Maverick, Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron.
The LRGVDC also serves as administrative agent for the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority, composed of 21 irrigation districts. The RGRWA has set up a Water Market to facilitate water sales and leases, and is coordinating a master plan that will identify needed improvements to water infrastructure in the lower Valley.
Lower Rio Grande Basin Study
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority (RGRWA) and its 53 member entities, in collaboration with the Texas Region M Planning Group, Texas Water Development Board, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and International Boundary and Water Commission, are conducting a basin study to evaluate the impacts of climate variability and change on water supply imbalances within an eight county region along the U.S./Mexico border in south Texas (Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Webb and Maverick Counties).
For more information please contact:
Director of Regional Planning
Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council
Environmental Protection Specialist
US Bureau of Reclamation
Oklahoma-Texas Area Office
Since 1975, the LRGVDC has served as the state-designated Areawide Wastewater Management Planning Agency. The agency works with area communities to coordinate and enhance natural resources in the Rio Grande Valley.
Education and outreach are very important components in addressing water quality issues and increasing public awareness towards water quality. The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan will be used to guide in the activities.
Maintaining water quality standards is crucial for local communities dependant upon surface water. Water quality is affected by pollution in two primary ways: from specific "point sources," such as wastewater treatment plants, and from nonspecific - or "nonpoint" - sources, such as contaminants that wash off from urban lawns, parking lots, and agricultural fields during rain falls.
The TCEQ's Clean Rivers Program provides the opportunity to approach water quality issues within a watershed or river basin at the local and regional level through coordinated efforts among diverse agencies and various programs. Click here for more information on the Clean Rivers Program.
Regulations help control pollution from point sources; changes in behavior are the best way to control pollution from nonpoint sources. Fortunately the TCEQ has information and funding available to help communities learn about and implement measures they can take to reduce runoff pollution.
Monitoring of Wastewater Treatment Plants
Funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The project will include planning for data collection from 20 outfalls to the Arroyo Colorado, with data collection taking place for the first 9 months of the contract. These two activities constitute Phase I of the overall project. The TCEQ will give a high priority to funding Phase II, which is the final months of the data collection, from future years' federal or state funds.
The collection of nutrient outfall data from 20 locations in the Arroyo Colorado watershed is an important component of a Watershed Protection Plan for the Arroyo Colorado (Phase I). This comprehensive watershed-based plan was developed by local stakeholders in 2007 with the assistance from state and federal agencies. The data collected during the monitoring project described herein will be used to refine pollutant loading estimates for the Arroyo Colorado and to gage the effectiveness of water quality wetland systems and other measures currently being instituted to mitigate pollutant loading to the Arroyo Colorado.
Click here to see the Fact Sheet which briefly describes what the project will accomplish. A StormCom poster was also developed by Texas A&M University-Kingsville and University of Texas at Brownsville which describes the Assessment of the Impact of Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements on Point-Source Nutrient Loadings to the Arroyo Colorado.
The water shortage in the Lower Rio Grande Valley has been intensified by the invasion of hydrilla and water hyacinth. Both grow and reproduce rapidly, forming dense surface mats that impede the flow of water, block sunlight, and inhibit the exchange of oxygen.
The LRGVDC successfully applied for $450,000 in funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other sources to help control hydrilla in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. In addition, it secured technical assistance from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to release up to 23,000 Triploid Grass Carp in the lower Rio Grande. These carp are sterilized prior to being released.
The LRGVDC also is assisting in discussions between the U.S. and Mexico to apply chemicals as a means of controlling weeds in the lower Rio Grande.
These efforts are coordinated through an Aquatic Weeds Task Force, representing stakeholders from all interests.