Water is the life blood of South Texas. It sustains our residents and our special environment, and we must be proactive in balancing the use of these resources and providing infrastructure to help avoid the devastating consequences of both flooding and drought.
Some projects, like restoration of the Resaca system, both help the environment and provide flood control. With $7.5 million in federal funds so far, restoration of several sections of the resacas are complete or in the works. Legislation I included in the 2018 water resources bill authorizes a major project to restore nearly 850 more acres of the Resaca system throughout Brownsville.
To decrease the dual and opposing threats of flooding and drought in South Texas, I am working with federal agencies as well as state, local and international officials, to increase the capacity of flood control systems and to ensure we use our shared resources wisely.
Expanding the Raymondville Drain is one of the most important flood control projects in the Rio Grande Valley. Significant upgrades to this drainage system would greatly decrease flood damage in Willacy and Hidalgo Counties. The project is the culmination of nearly four decades of studies, development and coordination with local, state and federal agencies and stakeholders. With language I included in legislation to provide more flexibility for the project and over $7 million in recent federal funds, we are moving this project forward. Working with local officials throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are also now working on a larger study of the entire Rio Grande Valley watershed to determine where else we need infrastructure to protect our communities from flooding.
While addressing flood risk is vital to Texas 34, I also remain mindful that our region is susceptible to long-term drought, so we must conserve water both to help the environment and to prepare for such times. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is funding projects in the Rio Grande Valley to convert earthen irrigation canals to pipes that will decrease seepage of water into the ground and evaporation into the air. We also need to ensure we are getting our fair share of the water in the Rio Grande River from our neighbor, Mexico. When I was first elected, the Government of Mexico was not abiding by our 1944 water treaty and was far behind in providing our communities water from the river. I worked with local, state and federal officials to push Mexico to eliminate its water debt with the United States. I continue to follow this issue closely to ensure Mexico treats the U.S. fairly as required by treaty.
Ensuring my constituents have fresh drinking water and sanitary wastewater infrastructure is also critically important. I am proud to have helped secure millions in federal funding to assist our local communities in handling wastewater issues, especially in the colonias.