CAMERON COUNTY, Texas --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District, along with representatives of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy Counties, signed the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LGRV) Watershed Assessment Feasibility Cost Share Agreement, December 12.
USACE Galveston District Commander Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Hidalgo County Commissioners Ellie Torres and David Fuentes, Cameron County Commissioner David Garza, and Willacy County Commissioner Eddy Gonzales, convened at the Cameron County Courthouse to sign the assessment establishing a partnership and shared vision in future flood mitigation efforts.
“We’re very eager about this partnership and the outcomes of this study which could bring about a number of recommendations and actions that could help alleviate the major flooding issues in the region,” said Blackmon moments before signing the agreement. “The water doesn’t respect our political boundaries that we may have drawn—not even the national boundaries—so it’s very exciting to see the three counties coming together to tackle this.”
“This endeavor is very visible within the Corps,” Blackmon said. “We are looking forward to being engaged in communities where we haven’t always been as engaged, and this partnership is certainly an example of that.”
The assessment will provide comprehensive and strategic evaluations and analyses including a variety of political, geographic, physical, institutional, and technical considerations in future projects to address the flooding issues in the LRGV area. The cost share agreement caps the study at $3 million with 75% of the cost incurred by the federal government and the remaining 25% covered by the non-federal entities.
The LGRV, commonly known as the Rio Grande Valley, is a region located in a floodplain spanning the border of Texas and Mexico with a population of approximately 335,000. The region consists of the Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco, Pharr, McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, San Juan, and Rio Grande City metropolitan areas.
The region has long experienced major flooding due to its low-lying lands and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. The flooding stems from a number of issues, to include rapid urbanization, the increase in impervious surfaces—such as asphalt, concrete, and brick—and lack of proper drainage infrastructure.
“This study will give us the opportunity to see what can be done in the future that could impact quality of life for us all, not just one county or the other,” said Garza, representing Cameron County’s Precinct 3. “It’s very important for us to gather the data from this assessment. Without that data … our problems would be ignored.”
“We have to be ready for when these opportunities become available to us,” said Fuentes, representing Hidalgo County’s Precinct 1. “This study opens up a different pathway for us to be able to look for the additional funding we may need in order to put some of these [flood mitigation] projects into place.”
Watershed planning addresses identified water resources needs from any source, regardless of agency responsibilities, and provides a shared vision of a desired end state that may include recommendations for potential involvement by USACE, other federal agencies, or non-federal interests.
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