La Feria News

IBWC Officials Present Plans at Citizens’ Forum

River History and Flood Control Reviewed

The International Boundary and Water Commission met with members of the public to lay out what the state and federal governments are doing to protect the citizens’ interests on both sides of the Rio Grande. The meeting took place Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at the USIBWC central offices just south of Mercedes.

The well-attended meeting drew a slate of local dignitaries, commission members and concerned citizens to listen and learn what the future holds for citizens directly affected by the vagaries and vicissitudes of the Rio Grande River–the life-blood of the Valley.

Rodolfo Montero stands before map showing his area of operations – The Lower Rio Grande.

Rodolfo Montero stands before map showing his area of operations – The Lower Rio Grande.

After welcoming those present and introducing dignitaries in the crowd, Rodolfo Montero, USIBWC Citizens’ Forum Co-chair and USIBWC Area Operations Manager, set the tone of the meeting. The program would focus on the Historical Resources along the lower Rio Grande Flood control project and what has been learned from the 2010 Rio Grande Flood. All this has a bearing on current conditions and preparedness Montero told the audience.

Mark L Howe, Cultural Resources Specialist from the El Paso station, traced the history of the international accord between theUnited States and Mexico to the Convention of 1899 when the International Boundary Commission (IBC) was created. As needs and responsibilities expanded, another major step in river water management was worked out in the 1944 Treaty, which provided for a United States Section and a Mexican Section. The name was changed to the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC).

That treaty was to apply equitably the rights and obligations of both nations to benefit their citizens socially and economically, and to make friendlier relations between all parties signing the Treaty. Falcon Dam was a direct result of that international agreement.

Historically, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed in 1848 ended the Mexican War and designated the main channel of the Rio Grande as the official boundary between the United States and the Republic of Mexico. Thus, with the Convention of 1899 and the Treaty of 1944 there finally existed a legal reference point to settle obligations, benefits and disputes arising along the river originally known by Mexicans as the Rio Bravo.

Operations Manager Montero continued the informative program discussing lessons learned from the 2010 Rio Grande flood and how the Lower Rio Grande Valley Flood Control Program (LRGVFCP) is progressing well and is on track for completion soon.

It had been reported earlier that 250 miles of levee construction projects have already been completed earlier than the contracts called for. There are three more stretches that will be completed by the end of this year, or by early 2015. These current conditions mean that we are better equipped for tropical weather systems than ever before.

Montero has been with the USIBWC since 2008. “My wife Roxana and my family are very happy to be living in this exciting part of the country,” he said, adding, “We are originally from Puerto Rico where I got my Engineering degree in Science and Civil Engineering. After I got my Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Penn State, we accepted this opportunity with the USIBWC, and couldn’t be happier.”

Then he said something very significant: “I’ve learned a very important lesson during those years of dealing with our citizens and local, state and federal officials, he said, I‘ve seen how Valley cities grow and expand, yet come together in times of need to meet the same challenges–be it floods, hurricanes or other disasters.” He added, “It is impressive to see local, state, and federal agencies pull together and forget party-lines during a shared crisis.”

Arrangements are being made for the agenda and location of the next meeting of the LOWER RIO GRANDE CITIZENS FORUM of the United States International Boundary and Water Commission. The public will be notified and invited. For more information , call 956-565-3150.

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