Region M - Rio Grande
2005 Regional Water Plan Overview
|Laredo, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen|
|Total Water Use: 2000||4,458,857 Acre-Feet|
|Total Water Use: 2060||1,661,658 Acre-Feet|
|Primary Rivers||Rio Grande, Nueces-Rio Grande|
|Major Aquifers||Gulf Coast, Carrizo-Wilcox|
|Annual Precipitation||20-28 Inches|
|Net Evaporation||40-64 Inches|
Basic Plan Facts
- Population is projected over 200 percent between 2000 and 2060
- Total capital cost of proposed water supply measures: not available
- One new reservoir, the Brownsville Weir, is proposed
What's at Issue?
Water issues in this region are extremely complicated. The region's main source of water, the Rio Grande River, is over appropriated - meaning that there is more water promised through permits than there is actual water available. This region also shares this main source of water, and an international border, with Mexico.
The plan falls short on recommending advanced water conservation measures. In addition, the plan included the Brownsville Weir as a proposed strategy. This project will limit the freshwater inflows from the Rio Grande into the Gulf, will restrict upstream movement of fish, and most importantly is not needed to meet projected demands.
Here are some of the items the Region M Planning Group must address.
Conservation and Drought Management
For conservation and drought management, the plan needs to...
- Include advanced water conservation measures for all user groups with needs. There is substantial need for improved treatment of water efficiency in the plan. In fact if the city of Brownsville would adopt reasonable municipal conservation measures (for a savings of over 30,000 ac-ft/yr), construction of the Brownsville Weir (with a firm yield of only 20,643 ac-ft/year) would not be needed.
To secure the protection of flows for fish and wildlife, the plan needs to...
- Recognize environmental flows as a water demand and seek to provide reasonable levels of environmental flows in the Rio Grande, the Arroyo Colorado, and all the region's estuaries.
- Quantitatively analyze the potential environmental impacts resulting from the Brownsville Weir and Reservoir, and other potentially harmful strategies.
- Designate stream segments in the region that meet the criteria as having "unique ecological value". The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends 4 segments for designation in this region.
To ensure that only the most economically sound water supply strategies are implemented, the plan needs to...
- Compare the costs and benefits of the supply alternatives in a consistent and reasonable manner. It is especially important to include cost information for advanced water conservation strategies in the plan.