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Flood control project kicks off in eastern Hidalgo County

November 1, 2018 GMT

Off a dirt road near the Hidalgo-Cameron County line, Hidalgo County Precinct 1 crews used two recently purchased excavators Wednesday morning to dig a hole in the ground.

It will eventually become a 224-acre reservoir, about 10-feet deep, part of the Delta Region Water Management Project currently under construction by Hidalgo County Precinct 1 workers.

The county purchased land northeast of La Villa in September to begin the first component of the flood control project estimated to cost about $48 million. It will include a detention facility designed to hold and release rainwater.

“For the last 10 years, this has been an idea,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes. “For us, it’s just really exciting to bring the actual construction to reality.”

In 2008 and 2012, voters approved bonds, allocating $10 million to the project, according to Fuentes, adding the funding was used in part to purchase land necessary to construct the reservoir. The county will search for ways to pay for the project, Fuentes said, including potentially using future bond money or funding provided by the state.

In the county, consumer’s demands for water could exceed capacity since the population is expected to grow by 120 percent in about 50 years, placing a strain on current resources, according to information provided by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1. In preparation for the predicted population increase, the second component of the project calls for water to be reclaimed at the reservoir then sold to cities or irrigation districts in the area.

Since rainwater flows from west to east, the project will also benefit Cameron and Willacy counties.

“I can tell you when Hidalgo County is able to control their water, it’s a good thing for Cameron (County),” said Cameron County Precinct 4 Commissioner Gus Ruiz, who serves La Feria and Harlingen.

Water collected in the reservoir will be released into the main drain, feeding into the Laguna Madre.

State and city leaders applauded the project Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony held at the project site near Farm-to-Market 491, about two miles northeast of La Villa.

“We see it as an economic development tool as well,” said La Villa City Manager Arnie Amaro, adding flood control infrastructure attracts developers. “At the end of the day, the whole Valley benefits.”

The completion date of the project is dependent on future funding.

cgarcia@themonitor.com