March 1, 2007
Dear Arroyo Partners,
In not hearing from me for a month, I hope that you do not think things are not happening with this Arroyo Colorado watershed project because a lot is going on. First of all the "Pachanga for the Arroyo Colorado" was a great event and from the comments received a huge success! We filled the City of Weslaco's Legislative chambers and had an impressive crowd which included representatives from the offices of Senator John Cornyn, Senator Eddie Lucio, U. S. Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, State Representative Veronica Gonzales, State Representatives from Juan Escobar's office, Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos' office, and a number of mayors, city managers and other community leaders. All these and more came to show interest and support for the watershed plan for the Arroyo Colorado.
Attached is the agenda for the Pachanga. This is included because our sponsors need to be recognized. Thanks again to our financial sponsors for the luncheon (see attachment) and to the City of Weslaco for providing the meeting room, staff, and audio/video equipment. We also need to thank the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for funding the planning of the event and for providing us with event extras, such as the series of mounted Arroyo photos. I also need to acknowledge Mission Historical Museum for providing decorations and Marcie Oviedo and Ludy Saenz of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for help in making the event a success.
Printed copies of the plan are now available for Partners and others who will use the plan for implementation. You must come by the Citrus Center or one of our meetings to get a copy because they weigh almost 2 pounds and are too costly to ship.
As far as other things going on, the Four Cities Wetland meeting was held on February 21, 2007. Sponsored by the TCEQ and hosted by the City of San Benito, representatives from San Benito, La Feria, San Juan, and Mercedes were on hand to present their plans. The purpose of the meeting was to informally discuss the project among professionals in the field and to provide additional support to each of the cities. The meeting was well attended and provided a good forum for open discussion. Again, we must recognize the EPA and TCEQ for their financial and technical support of these wetland projects.
Another notable happening was the offer by our Congressman Ruben Hinojosa to sponsor a special appropriation request to fund parts of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed plan. With the guidance of our Steering Committee and the assistance of Texas Water Resource Institute, we drafted a request for $750,000 for fiscal year 2008. This will be presented to the U.S. House - National Resource Committee this year. Special thanks to Salomon Torres, local District Manager for Congressman Hinojosa, for working with us.
FYI, if you were not at the last Steering Committee meeting you may not know that my contract as watershed coordinator ended January 31, 2007. TCEQ and TAMU Texas Water Resource Institute are working out grant contract details for funding the watershed coordinator and grant writer/data manager positions for FY07-08. Again, these positions will be funded with CWA 319(h) funds distributed by the EPA and TCEQ. To my understanding that contract should be completed early March. TWRI is advertising these two positions nationally. I have put in my application for the watershed coordinator position as I would be happy to continue work with you on the implementation of the watershed protection plan for the Arroyo Colorado. In the meantime, I am working under temporary contract with Dr. Juan Enciso, Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, on a project to evaluate best management practices to reduce nonpoint source pollution on the farm level. This is part of a bigger grant project titled "Arroyo Colorado Agricultural Nonpoint Source Assessment" funded by CWA 319 funds through the EPA Region 6 and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
There is a lot of good stuff going on in association with the Arroyo Colorado. This watershed protection project is on its way!