Arroyo Colorado

October 10, 2005

Hola Partners,

The last couple of weeks have been full of activity in relation to producing a watershed protection plan for the Arroyo Colorado. The work group leader meeting scheduled for September 21st was rescheduled due to the threat of hurricane Rita. We met on October 5th and I am now working on a revised outline as the work group leaders continue work on their portion of the plan.

Last week, the Ag work group had a series of meetings concerning the different aspects of the agricultural component of the plan. Groups met to discuss education and outreach, water quality monitoring, and the draft agricultural issues portion of the plan. There was good attendance at all the meetings and I must commend the Ag Work Group for their work on the draft plan. I also want to thank the local farmers and community representatives who took the time to attend the work group meeting and for their comments and recommendations. One of the issues raised concerned the loss of agricultural land to urban development and what that meant in terms water quality. Their concern re-enforces the need for a strong urban storm water management component to the plan and the need to consider Smart Growth options.

Last week there were follow-up meetings with city leaders of Weslaco, Pharr, Mission, Mercedes, Rio Hondo, and San Benito to discuss the wastewater portion of the plan. In general, we have been discussing the feasibility of designing and constructing wetland cells or polishing ponds to limit and remove nutrients from wastewater effluent. All the communities we have met with are open to the ideas and we have serious commitments from several entities to work on incorporating some type of polishing pond. The next Wastewater Infrastructure Work Group meeting is on October 19, 2005. It will be an important meeting to discuss and finalize the wastewater component of the plan and there will be a special presentation by Loretta Mokry of Alan Plummer and Associates, Inc on "Natural Treatment System Options for Polishing Treated Wastewater Effluent and Providing Multiple Barrier Protection for Water Quality". The meeting will be held from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the Rio Red Classroom of the TAMUK Citrus Research Center.

The next Habitat Work Group meeting is on October 18, 2005. Included in the agenda are presentations on the Arroyo aeration structures (weir project) and on the progress of the feasibility study by Alan Plummer and Associates. This is another important meeting as decisions will be made on which potential habitat projects for improving water quality warrant in-depth evaluations. The meeting will be held from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm in the Rio Red Classroom of the TAMUK Citrus Research Center.

One other meeting/event you may not want to miss is the conference titled "Emerging Technologies for a Sustainable Environment", that will be held Oct. 19-21, at the Sheraton Hotel at South Padre Island. There will be a presentations concerning the Arroyo and the WPP during the morning of 20th and an Arroyo field trip the afternoon of the 21st. Attached is the registration form.

Thank you for your time,

Laura