Conservation Matters July 2016

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Volunteers help complete self-draining parking lot in Arroyo Colorado watershed

By Kathy Wythe

Volunteers help complete self-draining parking lot in Arroyo Colorado watershed Photo courtesy of the ACWP.

An educational workshop on redesigning parking lots to collect, filter and redirect stormwater held June 25 in Harlingen was a success, according to Jaime Flores, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program coordinator for the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI).

“More than 22 volunteers showed up for the workshop on the construction of the new self-draining parking lot and bioretention basin at the Hugh Ramsey Nature Park,” said Flores, who serves as watershed coordinator for the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership (ACWP) in Weslaco. “The volunteers then helped with planting native plants, shrubs and trees to complete the construction of the project.”

The workshop was presented by the ACWP and TWRI in collaboration with the city of Harlingen, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the Texas General Land Office. Texas Master Naturalists and the Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society helped provide volunteers.

The workshop is part of the ACWP’s Ramsey Park Wetland Project, funded by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program through the Texas General Land Office, Flores said.

The existing parking lot at the park was ripped up, a bioretention basin was dug into the middle of the area and the parking lot was reconstructed around it so stormwater would flow to the basin, Flores said. As part of the project, a five-acre wetland system was expanded at the park.

Flores said the park and wetlands are located on the banks of the Arroyo Colorado and will keep untreated urban nonpoint source runoff from entering it.

“The native plants and trees planted in the basin will remove nutrients from the runoff, and as the runoff percolates through the underlying layers of sand and rock in the basin, sediment and additional pollutants will be filtered out,” he said. “The treated water will then be channeled into the expanded wetland system, where it will evaporate over time.”

Flores said the wetlands provide a habitat for fish and wildlife and serve as a demonstration project for other municipalities and counties that may be interested in using this type of technology to treat urban stormwater.

For more information, visit ACWP’s website and Facebook page.

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