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Hidalgo County official reports Edinburg Main Canal leak stopped

Water from the Edinburg Main Canal that was spilling an estimated 5 million gallons a day into a ditch that provides the main storm water runoff for Mission’s north side has been stopped, a Hidalgo County official said.


Hidalgo County Irrigation District 1 General Manager Rusty McDaniel told the Progress Times the canal “hadn’t leaked a drop” since a county work crew completed repairs on the canal about three weeks ago.

20161118 EdinburgCanalLeak IMG 1526111

This file photo of one of several leaks into a City of Mission storm water drain shows water pouring into the concrete drainage structure underneath the Edinburg Main Canal. Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 1 engineers estimate they have been losing 5 to 6 million gallons of water per day since the leaks were first discovered eight weeks ago. A video showing the leaks is available online at Courtesy photo

On Sept. 22 an irrigation district official informed Mission City Manager Martin Garza Jr. water was spilling into the city’s concrete culvert that runs underneath the canal about a quarter mile east of Stewart Road. Photos taken by an engineer hired by the city to review the problem revealed at least a half dozen places where canal water was pouring through seams that connect sections of the culvert.


The culvert was constructed in 1987 to allow storm water to flow from the canal’s south side to the north where it connects with the ditch that is the main source of storm water drainage for the city’s north side. Prior to the culvert’s construction Garza said storm water would build up against the canal’s southern berm until flowing into the canal, which is the main source of drinking water for Edinburg and other cities. The culvert is a concrete and steel conduit approximately 6 by 8 feet that runs north and south approximately 200 feet beneath the canal and the berms on either side that contain it.


Garza called the special council meeting in September over concerns the leaks might be creating an imminent danger of the canal collapsing into the culvert sending canal water into area neighborhoods while cutting water off to Edinburg, Sharyland, Alamo and area farms.  Though the engineer reported no imminent danger of collapse, Garza said the engineer recommended the leaks be repaired to avoid further deterioration of the culvert. Garza said the engineer found prior repairs to the culvert all of which must have been conducted by the county because there are no city records of repairs to it.  


The engineer suggested possible solutions could include diverting the canal so a liner could be installed over the culvert. But McDaniel said crews were able to compact soil where erosion had created voids between the culvert and the earthen berm that contains the canal and add some additional soil on top of the culvert which stopped the water flow into it. McDaniel described the work as routine maintenance that fell within the district’s existing maintenance budget.


“I’m not saying we might not revisit it in the future sometime but for now it’s fixed,” McDaniel said.  


Though a resolution signed in July 1987 between the City of Mission and the irrigation district indicates Hidalgo County is responsible for any repairs within the canal, Garza said the county sent a letter Nov. 17 to the city indicating the county would be billing the city for any repairs.


Informed the county contends repairs have been made at no additional cost Garza said he will continue to discuss with county officials a long term solution to the problem and how the costs would be delineated.


“It’s in the hands of the [irrigation] district because it’s their water and it’s their right of way,” Garza said. “We’re willing to participate but not giving up our stance that it’s their responsibility and that they need to be a part of the participation as well.”

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