The Arroyo Colorado is the primary freshwater inflow into the Lower Laguna Madre, and serves as an important estuary for trout, redfish and other game fish. This 90-mile distributary of the Rio Grande begins near Mission and flows thru the heart of the Lower Rio Grande Valley on its way to the bay.
A proposal by a San Antonio company, Dewatering Partners Industrial, to locate an industrial waste treatment operation at the City of Rio Hondo's municipal water plant is alarming area citizens like Arroyo city resident David Mendez.
"The Laguna Madre's largest source of freshwater intake is thru the Arroyo Colorado, and whatever happens bad in the Arroyo is also going to be bad for the Laguna Madre," said Mendez.
"It's is a very fragile ecosystem, and it is already impaired for bacteria and low dissolved oxygen just from the things that we do from day to day activities here in the Rio Grande Valley so what could happen to this ecosystem if we introduce new toxins and new contaminants to the water body," said Jaime Flores, Arroyo Colorado Watershed Coordinator.
The company plans to treat liquid waste from restaurant grease traps, car washes etc. and have accrued numerous violations at another of their facilities in the state.
Andrew Dobbs, Central Texas Program Director for Texas Campaign for the Environment, said, "They have operated since 2002 in La Coste, Texas which is southwest of San Antonio. They have been cited no fewer than 25 times for violations of environmental regulations here in the state of Texas|some of the more major of these, one caused the death of more than 166,000 fish in a single incident."
The mayor of Rio Hondo, Alonzo Garza Sr., is well aware of the publics concern, and commissioners are meeting to review the contract.
"If there is danger here, I don't want it. I will oppose it," he said.
A public hearing has been scheduled by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for Thursday, January 17th at 7:00 pm at Rio Hondo City Hall where citizens may address their concerns.