Water quality and quantity issues for eight counties in the Rio Grande Valley will be the focus of a regional conference to be held at The University of Texas-Pan American Oct. 19.
Roland Arriola, executive director of the Office of Center Operations and Community Services (CoSERVE) at UTPA, said the conference is designed to develop a plan for water usage and conservation for Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties.
Five Texas congressmen are scheduled to attend the conference including; Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz, Congressman Henry Bonilla, Congressman Silvestre Reyes and Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez.
"It's a critical conference," Arriola said. "We have to get the ball rolling on expanding our options on alternative water sources for the Rio Grande Valley."
Eduardo Vela, special projects coordinator for CoSERVE said that with the ongoing drought in its fifth year and the South Texas water shortage continuing to grow, members of Congress, federal agencies, state legislators, local elected officials and community leaders will use this forum to focus on the development of public/private partnerships for long-term regional water planning.
"There are a lot of good ideas out there and hopefully this conference will bring them to the surface," Vela said. "We need to develop a plan by which water can be made available for all uses for at least the next 50 years."
"We can't just depend on the Rio Grande River," Arriola said. "These cities must find alternative water sources."
The conference will be open to the public. A $50 individual registration fee is due on or before Oct. 1. For more information on the water conference, contact Arriola at 956/381-3361.