Arroyo Colorado

December 8, 2006

Dear Arroyo Partners!

The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan is now under final review. Thanks to all of you who submitted comments. We have been working to incorporate those comments and are pulling together a few more figures and photographs. Final layout is scheduled for completion by the end of this month and off to the printers the first of January. With this, we are planning to celebrate the completion of the plan with a roll-out event scheduled for January 30, 2007. More on that later...

There are no meetings scheduled for this month of December 2006 and I look forward to the New Year and on focusing on plan implementation. As you may know, many of the plan management measures to improve the quality of water in the Arroyo Colorado are ongoing. To name a few, our local agricultural agents and farmers have been implementing best management practices in our watershed for many years, our cities and municipalities have been and are working to improve their ability to treat our sewer water and hook-up colonias, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Storm Water Task Force has been working with our cities to address storm water pollution, and our environmental agencies and groups continue conserve and restore our natural resources. All these actions require personal and financial resources and we should acknowledge and be thankful for these efforts.

Much more technical and financial assistance is required for full plan implementation and the bottom line estimate is that it will take about 49,500 hours of professional assistance and about $65 over the next nine years (approximately $7.2 million per year). Again, another purpose of this plan is to help secure grant money to implement projects that will not only improve water quality in the Arroyo Colorado and Laguna Madre, but also will promote a thriving sustainable community and economy.

Because of this watershed planning effort the cities of San Benito, La Feria, San Juan, and Mercedes are receiving federal funds to enhance the treatment of their wastewater and at the same time, improve habitat, and increase recreational and educational opportunities. There is much more work ahead of us and we need to thank the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for supplying federal Clean Water Act 319 funds. Note that the TCEQ and the EPA are funding this watershed coordinator position and are also providing for a full-time grant writer for another two years. During this time we will be developing a strategy to keep plan implementation moving forward.

Thank you for your time,

Laura