Water Resources

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. Our main economic sectors – agriculture, retail service, manufacturing industries, tourism, and commercial fishing – all depend on reliable, good quality water supplies.

Water Supply

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The Rio Grande is our main source of water. Drought, international treaty issues, and increased demand are impacting long-term water availability. Because of this, the LRGVDC is leading efforts to develop strategies for long-term water supply alternatives.

The LRGVDC serves as administrative agent for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. RGRWPG is one of 16 regional groups set up under state law to conduct long-range analysis of water needs and develop water management strategies to meet those needs. The RGRWPG covers eight counties along the mid and lower Rio Grande: Maverick, Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron.

Water Quality

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Since 1975, the LRGVDC has served as the state-designated Areawide Wastewater Management Planning Agency. The agency works with area communities to coordinate and enhance natural resources in the Rio Grande Valley.

Education and outreach are very important components in addressing water quality issues and increasing public awareness towards water quality. The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan will be used to guide in the activities.

Maintaining water quality standards is crucial for local communities dependant upon surface water. Water quality is affected by pollution in two primary ways: from specific "point sources," such as wastewater treatment plants, and from nonspecific - or "nonpoint" - sources, such as contaminants that wash off from urban lawns, parking lots, and agricultural fields during rain falls.

The TCEQ's Clean Rivers Program provides the opportunity to approach water quality issues within a watershed or river basin at the local and regional level through coordinated efforts among diverse agencies and various programs.

Regulations help control pollution from point sources; changes in behavior are the best way to control pollution from nonpoint sources. Fortunately the TCEQ has information and funding available to help communities learn about and implement measures they can take to reduce runoff pollution.

LRGVDC's Watershed Protection Plans

A Watershed Protection Plan is a watershed-based approach that the state and local stakeholders use to address water quality issues within waterbodies such as the Arroyo Colorado and Laguna Madre. The causes/sources of pollution to the waterbody are identified through data collection, watershed analysis and local stakeholder input. Stakeholders then develop management measures to reduce point and nonpoint source loadings to the waterbody to meet the water quality goals of the plan.

The Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) support the development and implementation of watershed protection plans (WPPs) that prevent or manage nonpoint source pollution. Funding source may come from the TCEQ and/or the TSSWCB Nonpoint Source Programs with funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act.

EPA's 9 Elements

A.   Causes/Sources of Pollution Identified
B.   Expected Load Reductions for Solutions Identified (estimate pollutant loading into the watershed and the expected load reductions)
C.   Management Measures Identified (management measures that will achieve load reductions and an identification of the critical areas)
D.   Technical and Financial Assistance (estimate amounts of technical and financial assistance needed and the relevant authorities to implement plan)
E.   Education/Outreach (enhance public understanding of the project)
F.   Implementation Schedule (project schedule)
G.   Milestones Identified (description of interim, measurable milestones)
H.   Load Reduction Evaluation Criteria (identify indicators to measure progress)
I.   Monitoring (evaluate the effectives of the implementation efforts)

Watershed Protection Plans in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

1)   Arroyo Colorado
Address sources and causes of impairments and threats to surface and groundwater. Plan was recently approved by the State of Texas (final update - August 2017). It originates from southwest of the City of Mission and it drains into the Lower Laguna Madre (a sub-watershed of the Nueces-Rio Grande Coastal Basin, also known as the South (Lower) Laguna Madre Watershed)

2)   Lower Laguna Madre/Brownsville Ship Channel
Establish stakeholder group to identify and assess existing water quality related information. Located south of the Arroyo Colorado watershed and north of the Rio Grande watershed. Three main receiving water bodies: 1) San Martin Lake, 2) Brownsville Ship Channel, and 3) Lower Laguna Madre

3)   LRG Water Quality Initiative (LRGWQI)
Binational effort to restore and protect water quality in the Lower Rio Grande/Rio Bravo. Conducted under the International Boundary and Water Commission (CILA/IBWC). Address current and future water quality issues

4)   Raymondville Drain, the Hidalgo/Willacy Main and the USIBWC North Floodway
The three floodways flow into the Lower Laguna Madre. Collects urban and agriculture stormwater runoff, irrigation return flows, and an increasing amount of wastewater outfalls.

  • Raymondville Drain - includes region above the Hidalgo/Willacy Floodway northern watershed boundary to the northern LRGV County limits, and from Starr County border to the Laguna Madre
  • Hidalgo/Willacy Main - includes region above the Arroyo Colorado to the south watershed boundary of the Raymondville Drain and from the Starr County border to the Laguna Madre
  • USIBWC North Floodway - from Peñitas to the Gulf of Mexico (collects excess runoff from urbanized areas of Hidalgo County and agriculture land in Cameron and Willacy County)

For more information please visit:
Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
EPA Healthy Watersheds Protection
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB)

LRGVDC Regional Water Resource Advisory Committee (RWRAC)

In 2019, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council formed a Regional Water Resource Advisory Committee (RWRAC). The purpose of the advisory committee is to educate, promote, foster, and coordinate community and regional planning efforts on the environmental, economic, and other social impacts of existing, new or proposed regulations, policies, and control regarding water resources management.

The advisory committee will provide advocacy, guidance, technical assistance, and information to the region on priority matters of water resources management.

The advisory committee will identify and promote Lower Rio Grande Valley regional water management and conservation strategies ensuring sustainable use of water supplies, enhance economic vitality and protect the base flows of the region's rivers and streams. Also, to maintain a strong communication links among federal, state, county, local government, individual citizens and all other stakeholders.