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Officials announce 'historic' tri-county drainage study

Posted at 10:36 AM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 12:59:54-04

ROBSTOWN, Texas — Officials from three counties gathered in Robstown Wednesday to announce an historic approach to finding drainage solutions.

Nueces, Jim Wells, and Kleberg Counties will conduct a tri-county drainage study to look at problems in the area from a regional perspective.

Their mission is to improve drainage in those three counties. Officials hope they can find a solution by taking a new approach to an old problem.

"What this does is allows us to look at it from a regional perspective and then we're able to pursue the correct projects to fix that situation," said Joseph Ramirez with Nueces Co. Drainage District #2.

That regional perspective will come through a comprehensive, $2.7 million, three county drainage study. That study will be primarily paid for through a $2,137,500 grant from the Texas Water Development Board's Flood Infrastructure Fund. The counties will split the rest of the bill through $412,500 in cash and $150,000 worth of in-kind service considerations.

Engineers will use the latest technologies, including advanced 3-D mapping to look at four watersheds; the Agua Dulce, Petronila and Oso Creeks, along with Baffin Bay. Thse watersheds span all three counties.

"If it rains in Alice, two or three days later you see flooding in Petronila," said Ramirez.

"Look what's happened to us over the last month," said Nueces Co. Judge Barbara Canales. "The rains can be devastating, even more so than the winter storm did for us."

Last month's heavy rain led to widespread flooding in all three counties, which led Kleberg Co. Judge Rudy Madrid even declared a disaster.

The study will be used to create a Master Drainage Plan for the counties to follow. With storms seemingly getting worse annually, officials believe now is the time to plan for a '500 year flood'.

"We're not dealing with 50 year storms anymore, or even 100 year storms, we're dealing with extreme weather events, so we're going to be modeling for the extreme," said Canales.

Once engineering firms are hired, the study should take 18 months to complete. Officials say that if projects are identifed through the study which can be addressed immediately, they will be.