PRESS RELEASE: Vela announces $600,000 in Federal Funds to Help Conserve Water in the Rio Grande Valley


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) announced that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is awarding WaterSMART grants to two local irrigation districts to help improve water efficiency.  The WaterSMART Program focuses on improving water conservation and helping water-resource managers manage water more efficiently.

“The use of these federal funds will support conservation of our most valuable resource in Cameron County.  These projects are an important step in creating long-term solutions for water management in the Lower Rio Grande Valley,” said Rep. Vela.  “ I thank the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for supporting these projects in Texas 34, which will help protect the Valley from drought and promote water savings.”

Funds will support the following projects in Cameron County:

Cameron County Irrigation District No.6, Bennett, Swan Nelson, 134, 139, and 196 Canals Piping Project
Reclamation Funding: $300,000 
Total Project Cost: $857,143

The Cameron County Irrigation District No.6 will convert the earthen Bennett, Swan Nelson, 143, 139 and 196 Canals to 9,330 feet of polyvinyl chloride pipe. The project is expected to result in annual water savings of 1,040 acre-feet that is currently lost to seepage and evaporation. The Lower Rio Grande Reservoir System is over allocated and susceptible to long-term drought. The project will allow the District to reduce its diversions and allow for the conserved water to remain in the Lower Rio Grande Reservoir System.


Harlingen Irrigation District Cameron County No.1, Piping of Wyrick Canal (Phase II)
Reclamation Funding: $300,000 
Total Project Cost: $655,331

The Harlingen Irrigation District Cameron County No.1 will convert 3,730 feet of the concrete Wyrick Canal to a 48 inch pressurized polyvinyl chloride pipe. The project will increase system reliability and reduce the amount of power needed to lift water into the distribution system. The Harlingen area is dependent on surface water from the Rio Grande and experiences water conflict as a result of drought, over-appropriation of water rights, and population growth. The project makes progress toward water management goals identified in several Rio Grande Basin planning activities, including canal piping as a recommended water management strategy, increasing delivery system efficiencies to address drought, and conserving water to relieve tension for all groups in the basin. The project is expected to result in a 92 acre-feet of water savings, which will remain in the Rio Grande River Basin to benefit domestic, municipal, industrial, agricultural, ecological, and recreational uses.

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