City drainage report assess flood risks - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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City drainage report assess flood risks

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Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 10:00 pm

The city of Brownsville along with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board, Building Community Workshop and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley hosted their first annual drainage report on Wednesday to educate residents about the city’s drainage system and their plans to enhance it.

Along with scheduled presentations, guests enjoyed free hot dogs and refreshments while watching demonstrations of the city’s upcoming stormwater camera system before the start of the event. Also available to view before the event was a dredger boat, brought by the Brownsville Public Utilities Board. A dredger works like a vacuum, taking in sediment and debris to a lot more space for rainwater when needed.

According to city spokeswoman Roxanna Rosas, the drainage report was important to present to residents given the recent rain events that occurred within the city last year.

Dr. Jude Benavides, an associate professor of hydrology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, stated that there were several challenges in reducing the flood damage potential. Some of these challenges included Brownsville’s flat topography, making flooding “a fact of life.”

Benavides said Brownsville typically has 26 inches of rain a year; however. last year the city had its highest annual rainfall, totaling 42 inches.

Other challenges the city of Brownsville faces are its poorly draining soils (clay), rapid development, multiple drainage agencies and city funding.

Brownsville conducted several flood studies in 2006 and 2011. By analyzing these studies, the city has selected and in some cases enacted several of its proposed plans. The plans include adding detention ponds, channel improvements, diversions, pumping stations, non-structure improvements (like education and outreach), and resaca dredging.

Possible jurisdiction or organizational restructuring of the city’s multiple drainage agencies was also a proposed plan. Brownsville’s partners in drainage management include Cameron County Drainage District No. 1, Brownsville Irrigation District, CameronCounty, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, Cameron County Drainage District No. 3, Cameron County Drainage District No. 4 and Cameron County Irrigation District 2. The city and county’s multiple drainage districts have different rules and restrictions, which make flooding issues more difficult to solve. Creating one agency out of them all would allow for more efficient changes and progress.

City officials said they are working hard to better their drainage efforts. With flooding a big issue within the city, they have elected to use a stormwater camera system.

The camera system is controlled electronically. Traveling through the city’s drainage system, it is able to view any obstructions that may be causing backup issues within the city’s drainage pipelines which lead to flooding.

According to Rosas, the city is currently in the procurement process. The custom built stormwater camera system should arrive by this summer at the latest.

David Licon Jr. an engineer with the city, said the camera system cost approximately $220,000.

Rene Mariscal, water resource manager for BPUB, also gave the public an update on the Resaca Restoration Project. Since resacas are a significant part of the drainage solution, they felt it was important to attend.

“I think it’s important for citizens to understand the environment in which we live and work,” Assistant City Manager Ruth Osuna said. “We know that drainage is a significant issue within the city but there are a lot of different factors that go into why we have the kind of drainage issues that we have.”

Osuna said the city was looking for solutions all the time. She stated she hoped the public understood the complexity of the issue and took home the knowledge of how to help the city and themselves when it came to drainage efforts.

The drainage report event took place in two sessions at the Main Branch Library at 2600 Central Blvd in Brownsville. The first session started at 5:30 p.m. with the second started at 7:30 p.m.

 

abaskette@brownsvilleherald.com

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