Masthead Graphic
July 27, 2023
Contact: (512) 463-0120
Transformational Investments in Drainage
Column by State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, July 2023

The State of Texas has made transformative investments in the Raymondville Drain Project, recognizing its critical importance for the future of communities in the Rio Grande Valley. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I have been honored to work with our Hidalgo County Commissioners and Drainage District staff to secure funding for this vital project. These investments are critical given that the damage caused by the RGV floods in 2015 and 2018 cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The goal of this project is to reduce the risk to loss of life, injury, and damage to our properties by lessening the impact of future flood disasters.

To date, the state has contributed nearly $20 million, with $12.1 million obtained through grant funding from the Texas Water Development Board via a budget amendment I have included in the state budget since 2015. An additional $7 million was awarded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality through the Texas RESTORE Act grants. Local taxpayers have also demonstrated their commitment by approving $125 million in bonds.

Construction on the Raymondville Drain Project commenced in 2017, following four decades of planning hindered by funding limitations. This ambitious project will span 60 miles, stretching from Hidalgo County to Willacy County, and will address regional stormwater management to mitigate the impact of storms.

With an estimated total construction cost exceeding $400 million, the Raymondville Drain Project represents a significant financial undertaking. However, the State of Texas, in collaboration with local taxpayers and federal partners, remains steadfast in its commitment to securing the necessary funding. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez's successful efforts in securing $3.7 million through the Fiscal Year 2022 Government Spending Bill for the widening of a section of the North Main Drain exemplify the importance of federal partnerships in this endeavor.

Recognizing the region's vulnerability to extreme rainfall events, it is worth noting that despite the current dry spell, when rain does arrive, it often pours. Rain events in the Rio Grande Valley have seen rainfall ranging from 8 inches to 15 inches in just one to two days, underscoring the urgent need for effective drainage and flood control measures.

Expect more support from the state for this project soon. This past session, I was pleased to co-author SB 30, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which allocates nearly $625 million for infrastructure projects related to drainage, flood mitigation, or flood control.

This commitment from the state, combined with ongoing collaboration with Hidalgo County Commissioners, the Texas Water Development Board, and our federal partners ensures that the Raymondville Drain Project will receive the necessary support and investment it requires.

The Raymondville Drain Project is not just about flood control; it also encompasses water reuse, conservation, supply, and economic development. By addressing these critical aspects, the project will enhance the resilience and prosperity of the Rio Grande Valley communities. I look forward to continue working with our Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, the Drainage District staff, and our state and federal partners to continue securing the necessary funds to ensure the completion of this important project.