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2010_FLOODED_CountryEstates_Mission_SHEATSMISSION – In a meeting with concerned Mission residents last Thursday, July 21, Godfrey Garza, director of Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 (HCDD), outlined a plan by local officials to widen the Mission Lateral drainage ditch. The action is expected to reduce the threat of flooding of homes throughout a large area of Mission.

Under the proposed plan, drainage district workers would perform the work of widening the major drainage structure, which is located between FM 495 and Two Mile Rd., running parallel to FM 495. The City of Mission has committed to haul away the tons of dirt to be excavated at no cost to the district, a measure that will create major savings in the cost of the project. About one-third of the city will benefit from the Mission Lateral drainage improvements, Cerda said. Areas as far south as Business 83 and west to Los Ebanos Rd. drain into the lateral drainage system.

Garza said if this job was to be contracted out it would cost between $6 million and $8 million. He estimated that the cost could be cut in half by doing the job in-house.

The plan is to widen the drainage ditch, which is presently about 80 feet wide, to possibly 120 feet wide. This will allow more storm water to flow into the ditch before it reaches capacity. The project would do nothing to improve the flow rate of water out of the Mission Lateral. Garza explained that the drainage system has built-in restrictions that control the amount of water that can flow downstream to prevent flooding of the city’s neighbors to the east. The Mission Lateral will then serve as a giant detention pond to hold water during a severe rainstorm until it has time to flow downstream.

Precinct 3 County Commissioner Joe Flores and Mission City Manager Julio Cerda participated in the meeting, demonstrating the cooperation between the local entities to get the job done in short order. Garza said Commissioner Flores, a member of the drainage district board, received a letter from Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas requesting that the district widen the Mission Lateral from Bentsen Rd. to Conway.

The May 5 mayor’s letter to Flores requests the district to not only widen the Mission Lateral, but to also widen and realign the Conway Drainage Ditch and make improvements to the Mission Stub Drain Ditch. The letter, a follow-up on meetings between the City of Mission and the drainage district, outlines the roles of the two entities on these projects.

Last week’s meeting of Mission residents with the officials focused primarily on the Mission Lateral widening, with no discussion of the other projects mentioned in the mayor’s letter. However, Cerda stated by telephone later that the city and HCDD would begin working on the other two projects right after the Mission Lateral is completed.

The entities still have to sign an interlocal agreement and work on the logistics of arranging the equipment and crews before work can begin. He could not provide an estimated completion date.

“It depends on the amount of equipment available to work on it,” said Godfrey. “And if we have a hurricane we may need that equipment somewhere else.”

During the meeting, requested by residents who live in the area north of FM 495, the city manager reaffirmed the city’s commitment to assist with the project and to get it done quickly. In a telephone interview this week, Cerda said he is looking at all options to determine what is best for the city.

“The good thing is we have the drainage district working with us on this project,” he said. “It’s not everyday you get offered the equipment to actually dig it out. This is a good working relationship with the drainage district.”

He added that he anticipated that the agreements could be drawn up and construction could begin in as little as five to six weeks.

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