Arroyo Colorado

May 6, 2009

Hello Arroyo Partners:

The Earth Day events and activities were informative, fun and a success! I was especially excited to see how many involved raising awareness regarding storm water pollution prevention.  Despite the economic crisis, the Lower Rio Grande is still experiencing rapid growth and area cities are dealing with these issues on a daily basis. Outreach and education efforts that address all sources of pollution that enter the Arroyo Colorado play a big role in ensuring our work is successful. I want to congratulate and thank everyone that helped make these events possible. To read up on the events go to: Ag News and TAMUK News.

We just held a Steering Committee meeting on April 28th. Thank you to all who attended. Attendees watched a presentation about Solar Bees, which are solar powered, long distance water circulators that are installed in water bodies to improve dissolved oxygen and the overall habitat. Solar Bee representatives, who toured the Port of Harlingen area while they were here, acknowledged the complex water quality issues we face in the Arroyo Colorado and stated it was unlike any water body that they had dealt with. While they can not guarantee total success, the company feels they have a lot to offer the watershed and would like to install some Solar Bees in the tidal portion of the Arroyo. I encourage everyone to look at their website. This type of green engineering may be a way to help restore DO levels during these upcoming critical months.

Steering Committee members were also given an update on agricultural activities in the Arroyo Colorado. Specifically, maps detailing installed best management practices in the watershed are now complete and acreage for each BMP will be added next. In addition to completing the maps, Dr. Narayanan Kannan with AgriLife Research has also been busy updating and validating the SWAT model. His data taken in the field held up to the calculated amounts derived with the model program and his next step will be to begin running specific scenarios to determine loadings.

We are in the process of looking for external funds to support the installation of Solar Bees; we would need to include in-stream water quality monitoring to assess its effectiveness. Anybody interested in collaborating with us? Two grant programs we are currently looking at for Solar Bee and for other aspects of implementing the WPP include the US EPA Source Reduction Assistance Grant Program and the WERF Paul L. Busch Award. The latter program is an award for a researcher who is in the early to mid point of their career and is doing innovative "out-of-the-box" research in stormwater, watersheds, wastewater, etc. Please email me if you have interest in working with us - we'll gladly help you put together the proposal to seek these funds.

Two proposals were submitted recently and hopefully, have a good chance of receiving funds. TAMUK and UTB collaborated with the LRGVDC to develop a proposal to conduct monitoring at permitted waste water treatment plants in the watershed. Also, the partnerships proposed to develop two public service announcements (in English and Spanish) to enhance outreach. Speaking of outreach efforts, unfortunately, the three Environmental Education grants we submitted to US EPA were not funded. We'll try again next year.

Here are a couple of events you might be interested in:

Municipal Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping Webcast, May 14, 11 am to 2 pm : On May 14 at the Citrus Center auditorium, TAMUK and the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership will host a webcast that focuses on Municipal Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping, which is one of the minimum management measures associated with Phase II of the NPDES MS4 permit program. This webcast will feature practical guidance on developing and implementing an effective municipal pollution prevention/good housekeeping program. One will hear about simple methods that can be used to assess and improve your municipal operations and about how to make the most of your pollution prevention/good housekeeping efforts.  Please contact Javier Guerrero if you are interested in attending this webcast.

Grant Opportunity Workshop: City of Pharr Convention Center, July 24, 8:30 am to 4 pm:  The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership, Rural Economic Development Group of the Texas Department of Agriculture, the LRGV TPDES Stormwater Task Force, TAMUK and the City of Pharr will host a grant opportunity workshop that will feature speakers and presenters from over a dozen state, federal, local and private agencies. These speakers will promote available grant funding from their respective agencies, provide guidance, identify other workshops, and distribute grant solicitations and applications. The workshop is available to all Arroyo Colorado stakeholders, local governments and any interested entity. Lunch will be provided, several outreach booths from invited agencies will be on location, and the seminar is free. I want to encourage everyone to attend this workshop.

We can all use some rain.  I hope we get some soon.  But make it rain...not a hurricane!

Looking ahead,

Jaime Flores