Council selects two for new state regional flood committee

HARLINGEN — Two Valley representatives have been selected for a new state agency which will play a regional role in flood planning based on river basins.

Ron Mills, port director for the Willacy County Navigation District, and Martin Knecht, of South Texas College, were approved for the Regional Water Resource Advisory Committee by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council at its board meeting Wednesday.

Last year, Texas lawmakers expanded the Texas Water Development Board’s mission to create the new advisory committee, known as RWRAC.

“In 2019, the Texas Legislature enacted sweeping legislation to create a new regional flood planning process to help protect Texas from one of its recurring and most devasting natural disasters,” said TWDB Executive Administrator Jeff Walker in a statement. “This groundbreaking flood planning effort will identify specific flood risks as well as strategies to reduce those risks in coming years.”

The new RWRAC consists of 15 regional planning groups, formed regionally for each of the state’s major river basins.

Representatives selected for the committee are selected from among specific interest categories, including agriculture, industry, river authorities, counties, municipalities, water districts, flood districts, electric generating utilities, water utilities, environmental interests, small businesses and the public.

The task of RWRAC is ambitious. The new committee must develop regional flood plans by January 2023, which will then be used as the foundation for the state’s first comprehensive flood plan in 2024.

The Lower Rio Grande region runs from Del Rio in the west to Brownsville, and north to encompass all of Willacy County as well as most of Kenedy County.