June 10, 2005
Can you believe it is June already? Time does fly when you are having fun and who's not having fun? Rumor has it that it is budget time for many entities, that we are in a drought and that we should be thinking about hurricane season. I acknowledge the fullness of our schedules and the excitement of the world of water. All the more reason to vision the direction we want our communities grow, to plan, and to take action.
Budget and funding are a big part of planning and I want to thank the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) TMDL Section for adding money to our budget to hire a consultant to help us promote our watershed planning effort. We have $56,000 to hire a firm to help us in the short-term promotion of our project, to conduct a market survey to find out what Valley residents think about the Arroyo (their attitudes and beliefs) and to help design a campaign that will foster watershed stewardship. After a few more revisions, the Education and Outreach Work Group completed the request for proposal (RFP) and I have sent it to my financial guy to move it through the Texas A&M hiring system. We should have some firm on board within the next couple of months.
From promoting our effort, I have had an opportunity to talk with people and now have an idea of what some people think about the Arroyo. First of all, many upper Valley residents do not realize that the Arroyo Colorado extends a little ways past the city of Mission. In that "neck of the woods", the Arroyo is known as the Main Floodway and people think of the Arroyo as something that exists in Harlingen and Rio Hondo. Slowly the connection is being made and people are becoming aware that what flows off their streets and yards and fields ends up in the Arroyo Colorado and potentially in the Lower Laguna Madre. We all live downstream.
So where are we in the planning process? I have put tight time-lines on our work group leaders and have requested that by our next round of meetings (early August) we have at least a good outline of that work group's component of the plan. We are shooting for good draft by the end of October. I will schedule special meetings as the need for detail arises.