Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Environmental Engineering Program Receives Grant to Expand Low Impact Development Project in Rio Grande Valley

KINGSVILLE - May 30, 2012

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

The Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE) in the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has received an $835,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will fund green development in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  

The grant, which is part of the Clean Water Act program dealing with Nonpoint Source Pollution, will fund Phase III of ISEE’s “Evaluation of Innovative Low Impact Development Activities in Urban Storm Water Management in the Arroyo Colorado,” an ongoing effort to promote Low Impact Development (LID) in one of the fastest growing regions in the nation.
Controlling storm water runoff is a critical challenge, since runoff from new development contributes to surface water contamination.  The project is part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Low Impact Development Implementation and Education program—an initiative started by ISEE and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Storm Water Task Force. All phases of the project aim to implement green best-management practices for managing storm water runoff.

“This new Phase III grant for the Arroyo Colorado Watershed LID program will allow even more Lower Rio Grande Valley communities to benefit from new eco-technologies to help improve water quality in our region,” said Dr. Kim Jones, chair of the environmental engineering department and the grant’s primary investigator. “It will also provide tremendous opportunities for A&M Kingsville environmental engineering students to participate in cutting-edge LID designs and project implementation experiences, helping them prepare for careers as practicing engineers.”

Phase III of the grant will expand some of the best-management practices to new areas. Among the projects to be completed in Phase III include:

  • The construction of a biofilter/rain garden in the middle of a Harlingen Water Works System (HWWS) parking lot. Rain water harvested through the project may be used for industrial processes occurring at the site. This project is the second built at the HWWS. Construction of a pervious pavement and a bioswale—used to remove silt and pollution from storm water—was initiated in 2011.
  • The installation of a solar panel pergola and a rainwater harvesting system at the Alamo Sports Complex in Alamo. The rain garden will surround a storm drain.
  • The creation of a pervious pavement parking lot at the site of the new city hall in La Joya. Built on unique, hilly terrain, the city hall will be constructed atop a ledge. The pervious pavement parking lot will be constructed on a gentle slope and drain storm water runoff into a pond below the ledge. Because La Joya is located in a highly rural area of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, this project will allow project staff to assess the benefit of such LID practices in developing areas. Researchers will develop databases, an interactive website that maps the LID sites and an LID model that will calculate load reductions for nutrient loadings associated with urban runoff impacts on the Arroyo Colorado.

Phases I and II of the project were funded in 2010 and 2011 and received grant awards totaling more than $2.5 million. These grants funded the following LID projects:

  • City of Brownsville, Monte Bella Park: green rood, pervious surface parking lots, walking trails and rain harvesting system.
  • City of San Juan, Amigos Del Valle Center: green roof, rain harvesting system, rain garden.
  • Valley Nature Center in Weslaco: green roof, rain garden, bioswales, pervious surface parking lots and constructed wetlands.
  • City of La Feria, Recreation Center: pervious surface parking lots, bioswales and rain garden.
  • Cameron County Drainage District No. 1, Cascade Park in Brownsville: constructed wetlands, rain garden, pervious surface parking lots and bioswale.
  • Weslaco Public Library: rain harvesting system and rain garden.
  • City of Alton, Fire Station: pervious surface parking lots and rain garden.

A&M-Kingsville engineering students have worked on the design of all grant projects and will continue to do so during Phase III.  

A fourth phase of the grant will be submitted this summer and could further extend the project to new sites in the Rio Grande Valley.   

About the Lower Rio Grande Valley Low Impact Development Program

The LRGV LID Implementation and Education program founded by ISEE and the LRGV Storm Water Task Force aims to implement “green” best management practices when it comes to controlling storm water runoff. Formed in 2002, the LRGV Storm Water Task Force has brought together 15 cities, one county and one drainage district with a unity of purpose to protect water quality and mitigate non-point source pollution. Led by Jose Hinojosa of the City of Brownsville and Javier Guerrero, Texas A&M University-Kingsville research engineering associate, the task force includes Cameron County, Cameron County Drainage District #1 and the following cities: Brownsville, San Benito, Harlingen, La Feria, Palm Valley, Weslaco, Donna, San Juan, Alamo, Mission, Alton and La Joya.                   


This page was last updated on: June 14, 2012