May 1, 2008
Hola Arroyo Partners!
We had a good turnout of people at the April 24 Steering Committee meeting with special guest from Reynosa and Austin. Thanks to all who attend and the Valley Land Fund for providing the meeting refreshments.
The million dollar question was asked at the meeting; is the quality of water in the Arroyo Colorado improving or getting worse? The Nueces River Authority reported no significant trends (i.e. no significant improvement in water quality). Phosphorus, nitrogen compounds, and Chlorophyll-a remain elevated; however there appears to be less fecal bacteria in the Arroyo Colorado. Some good news from the meeting: a potential Arroyo Colorado bacteria TMDL has been averted temporarily while the Nueces River Authority conducts a study to better characterize bacteria in the Arroyo Colorado (TCEQ will provide funding for the study).
Another meeting highlight is the success of the Texas AgriLife Extension Soil Testing Campaign. Since 2002, the addition of nitrogen and phosphorus to Valley (Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy and Starr counties) agricultural fields has been reduced by over 3 million pounds each! This has provided a positive economic impact (between $7 and $27 savings per acre) to producers and translates into nutrient load reductions in the Arroyo Colorado. Another area where load reductions are being realized is from our cities. At least two Valley cities have realized greater load reductions (than committed to in the plan) from wastewater treatment facilities by the nature of reuse. Many Valley cities are using their treated wastewater for the irrigation of playing fields and landscapes. This is positive in one sense however raises the question of adequate "freshwater" flows to the Lower Laguna Madre. This issue will be discussed in future meetings.
Note, a couple of wetland restoration grants are out for proposals; National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant (NCWC) and North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grant. These grants require restoring sites where wetlands "previously existed". We have a couple of sites in-mind and if you know of any and/or would like to participate as a Partner in this grant opportunity, please let me know. Attached is an updated grants table. Again, we have a grant writing team to assist any community or organization in the drafting of proposals for improving water quality and habitat within the Arroyo Colorado Watershed.
Two final notes; the wetland field trip to Victoria, Texas is rescheduled for Thursday, June 12, 2008 and May 10, 2008 is the 9th Annual Dragonfly Days Event. See the attached press release for more information the Dragonfly Days and be on the lookout for additional information on the wetland field trip.