Starr County holding drainage town hall

Roma residents will have the opportunity to voice their concerns and get an update on a long-planned drainage project that could finally break ground in a matter of days.

Starr County Attorney Victor Canales said he wanted to hold a town hall to set the record straight on the Los Morenos Creek Drainage project, which he said has been the subject of misinformation.

The drainage project is meant to divert water from Los Morenos Creek away from residential areas and back to its original site.

“ The idea is to collect that water through the retention ponds and channel it through a storm drain,” Canales said, “through an area which is unpopulated and not affect the individuals that are residing (there).”

The flow of the creek changed over the years because of residential development, among other factors.

“ You had a change in the contour of the land, you had a change in the natural flow of water,” Canales explained.

That change in the flow was exacerbated by Hurricane Dolly, which hit the Rio Grande Valley in 2008. It was in the hurricane’s aftermath that county officials began to have discussions on the need for the drainage project.

However, the project has been delayed, in part, because of the turnover in project managers and changes to the project itself caused by the rising cost of construction, Canales said.

Additionally, to get the drainage project off the ground, the county had to acquire approximately seven properties and is in negotiations with the owners of the last tracts of land the county needs to acquire. Once an agreement is reached, construction can begin “as soon as possible.”

The project is budgeted at approximately half a million dollars and is being financed through a reimbursement grant from the state.

Canales and Raul Peña III, the county commissioner for Precinct 2, are expected to attend. Unconfirmed to appear are Pct. 1 County Commissioner Jaime Alvarez and Maricela Ibarra, the project manager.

The town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Roma Community Center.