01/16/2014 12:04 PM
AUSTIN - Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the state needs to invest more in water innovation.
Voters in November approved dedicating $2 billion to the state water plan, but Combs proposed some ideas that include the state creating $25 million in prize money for water research. Farmers and ranchers lost nearly $7.6 billion in the 2011 drought.
The latest drought monitor shows the Rio Grande Valley is in much better shape after recent rainfall. Much of Hidalgo County is listed… Click to Read More
05/09/2013 11:52 AM
EDINBURG - Hidalgo County leaders are meeting to discuss how to address the ongoing drought.
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said they're no longer relying on getting any water from Mexico. Instead he said he wants the county and nearly two dozen cities inside Hidalgo County to come up with a unified plan to address the drought.
The judge, along with state, city and county leaders, announced they're working to create the plan.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS will bring you the result… Click to Read More
04/02/2013 10:04 PM
BROWNSVILLE - A lack of rain could translate into higher admission prices at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.
Gladys Porter Zoo Facilities Director Jerry Stones said they are paying more to feed the animals.
"A $2 bale of hay now costs me $4 or $5 more," he said.
The increase in feed costs will drive up ticket prices, he said.
"Right now, we had a decent Semana Santa and we had a decent Spring Break. Thank God," Stones said.
Still, the increase in atte… Click to Read More
04/01/2013 06:34 PM
McALLEN - The city of McAllen on Monday began enforcing tougher water conservation rules.
The city's stage-two water conservation plan restricts outdoor water use, officials said.
"We're praying for rain. Everybody's praying for rain," McAllen resident Rose Barajas said.
The stricter conservation plan comes as water levels in the Rio Grande sank below 40 percent of its capacity.
The restrictions will limit the number of times Barajas can water her plants.… Click to Read More
03/29/2013 07:00 PM
WESLACO - Mexico is responding for the first time to requests to release water owed to Texas. State Representative Eddie Lucio III told CHANNEL 5 NEWS there is still no action, but the response is positive news.
"We had minor success and I can't say to what amount. But we have heard back from Mexico. That is confidential at this point, because it's a diplomatic matter, and I was told that is not public information at this time," Lucio said.
Lucio told us Mexico is not yet in "… Click to Read More
03/29/2013 06:00 PM
STARR COUNTY - Cattle ranchers said they need more than one rainy season to bring back their business. The drought has many selling off cattle earlier than normal. Ranchers say it's too expensive to keep them during the drought.
"It used to be that we were happy when we saw a calf on the ground... Now I see a calf and I cringe, because I know I'll have to feed that cow more," Starr County cattle rancher Erasmo Montemayor said.
Montemayor told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he had to let go al… Click to Read More
03/27/2013 08:14 PM
RIO GRANDE CITY - Rio Grande Valley residents are trying to find new ways to keep their lawns from turning into dust. One Starr County man said there is a way to keep the grass green and still save water.
Jeffrey Kleypass, a plant and soil consultant, said it's all about knowing how to use the water.
Rene Salinas Jr. said his lawn benefitted from Kleypass' methods.
"We've come a long way," he said. The Rio Grande City homeowner said his lawn is a top priority.
03/27/2013 08:02 PM
BROWNSVILLE - A Cameron County homeowner said the dwindling levels at a resaca forced him to change his Easter plans.
Eufebio Martinez said his backyard has gone from a fun place to a depressing site. The resaca behind his home is down to a muddy mess, he said.
"There was a lot of water ... a lot of vegetation. It was beautiful," Martinez said.
"The kids enjoyed it very much. We used small boats to play in the water," he said.
Martinez said the drought started … Click to Read More
03/27/2013 04:22 PM
HIDALGO COUNTY - The city of McAllen spent $15,000 printing water-restriction notices for its 40,000 customers, officials said.
The notices will be in mailboxes Friday, city officials said.
The city's stage-two water conservation goes into effect Monday. Resident must follow strict rules for outdoor water usage.
03/26/2013 07:12 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Underground water has proven crucial for Brownsville during the current drought, officials said.
The water comes from the Gulf Coast Aquifer, and the Southmost Regional Water Authority is the entity responsible for drawing it from the ground and making it potable.
"It's supplied by 20 wells, ground-water wells that pump from 250 to 300 feet down in the ground, and it's pumped by the wells to the plant," Judy Adams said. She is with the Southmost Regional Water Au… Click to Read More
03/26/2013 06:56 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos wants President Obama to ask Mexico to repay its water debt to the United States.
Cascos also said congressional members need to try a different approach. Rio Grande Valley lawmakers have asked Mexico to repay more than 1 million acre feet of water it owes. But Mexico will not comply.
"They have been trying to do this for a couple of months. It doesn't appear to be working," Cascos said.
He said a call from Obama to Mexi… Click to Read More
03/26/2013 06:52 PM
HIDALGO COUNTY - An invasive tree along the Rio Grande banks is having an impact in the Rio Grande Valley's drinking water, experts said.
The tree, saltcedar, spread quickly after the 2010 flood. Saltcedar and its relative Athel pine return salt to the ground, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Plant Ecologist Kim Wahl said.
"These trees send a tap root down until it hits water," Wahl said.
A fully grown saltcedar can suck up to 500 gallons of water a day, Wahl said. That is five … Click to Read More
03/25/2013 06:17 PM
ZAPATA COUNTY - The receding water line at Falcon Lake is affecting fishing, anglers said.
The lake was the site of Bassmasters' 2013 Rigid Industries Falcon Slam fishing tournament. The tourney ended Monday.
"It went up about 10 feet and now it's drastically going back down. I'm not sure how far it's going to go down, because it keeps backing off," Leroy Ranstrom said.
The fish were not biting, anglers said.
"They'll go and wait in the deeper water ... it kind… Click to Read More
03/25/2013 12:12 PM
ZAPATA - Drought conditions are plaguing Zapata's big money maker. The low water levels are affecting the city's largest fishing tournament.
We're about 30 feet below what fishermen call "full pool." It's about six feet lower than it was in 2008. That means these fishermen have less water to fish. Less water tends to bunch up the anglers. It's expected to impact what's caught on the lake.
03/23/2013 09:36 PM
EDINBURG - Parents visiting a local park worry the effects the drought is having on children.
Parents say the drought is hardening the soil and drying up the water levels. CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with parents who say the conditions are depressing.
Tony Malish went to the park to teach his daughter to fish. Malish said the sight is jaw-dropping. His 8-year-old daughter Claudia noticed the change too. She said, "It's definitely not the same as it used to be. There used to be a lot … Click to Read More
03/22/2013 07:51 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Drought conditions and increasingly busy roadways are putting an endangered species at greater risk, experts said.
Experts now are trying to find new ways to protect the few ocelots that remain in the region.
The roughly 50 ocelot that remain in Deep South Texas are the last left the entire United States, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge Manager Jennifer Owen-White said.
"The drought affects all wildlife, but for an animal like an ocelot, it's really hard. Th… Click to Read More
03/22/2013 07:46 PM
WILLACY COUNTY - The city of Raymondville is turning to an old water well for relief from the incessant drought, officials said.
The 60-year-old well has not been used in years. Now, it could be the solution to some of the city's water woes.
Water department employees said the well was built in the early 1950s.
The 1,500-foot well can produce up to 800,000 gallons of water per day, if it works. That would cover half the city's water needs, officials said.
Still… Click to Read More
03/22/2013 03:20 PM
WESLACO - Mexican officials made no comment on water releases as the deadline for doing so expired Friday.
Congressman Ruben Hinojosa and other U.S. officials are asking Mexico to release more water into the Rio Grande. Mexico owes hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water.
Hinojosa said he expected to hear from Mexican officials if they would release water to pay some of the debt in accordance with a treaty between the two nations.
The treaty gives Mexico several ye… Click to Read More
03/21/2013 04:39 PM
WILLACY COUNTY - Willacy County officials said a water release by Mexico would ease the drought problems in the region.
The comments come as official await word from Mexican authorities on how much water will be released into the Rio Grande.
Raymondville is under stage-three water restrictions. Residents are allowed to water their yards on specific times and days of the week.
The United States and Mexico have a treaty. The agreement requires Mexico to release a certain… Click to Read More
03/20/2013 07:23 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Laguna Madre Water District officials are asking residents to fix any leaks in their homes.
Laguna Madre Water District interim General Manager Carlos Galvan said people must understand that water could disappear from their taps.
"They take it for granted. Water is always available. They open faucets and they have water. When you cut it off, it's a concern. We don't want it to get to that point," Galvan said.
He said the water district began giving out… Click to Read More
03/20/2013 07:13 PM
JIM HOGG COUNTY - The drought is impacting cattle ranchers and hay growers in South Texas.
Cattle ranchers said they are turning to cactus to feed their herds. They said it is less expensive than buying hay.
Bill Barfield, a cattle rancher in Jim Hogg County, said growing grass is no longer an option.
"The round bales of hay are costing around $100 to $120. This butane costs about $2.30 a gallon," Barfield said.
Barfield plans to move his 100 head of cattle to … Click to Read More
03/20/2013 04:53 PM
McALLEN - the city of McAllen continues sending notices out to residents before new water restrictions take effect.
Flyers will be mailed out with water bills next week to 50,000 water customers, officials said.
Outdoor water-usage restrictions will begin April 1, officials said. Residents will be allowed to water their yards only twice a week.
The notices go out as the National Weather Service warns that there is no relief in sight for the drought affecting the region… Click to Read More
03/19/2013 04:43 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Environmentalists on Tuesday voiced their concerns about the future availability of water in Cameron County.
Representatives from the Audubon Society and the University of Texas at Brownsville said the growing population in Brownsville and the drought are changing the way water is used in the region.
"Water is being wasted. We need retention ponds to hold the water during times of heavy rain," Gregory Vail said. He is with the Brownsville Audubon Society.
Click to Read More
03/18/2013 07:31 PM
McALLEN - The city of McAllen recently drilled a 400-foot-deep well in search for water.
The $2.5 million project paid off, city officials said. The well will yield 1.5 million gallons of drinking water per day.
"Really, this is luck more than anything else," McAllen Public Utilities Director Roy Rodriguez said.
The well will feed the water into McAllen's south side plant. The water requires little treatment, Rodriguez said.
The city requires approximately 24 m… Click to Read More
03/18/2013 07:26 PM
OLMITO - The drought affecting the Rio Grande Valley could have a serious impact on one of the World Birding Center's locations.
Resaca de la Palma Manager Pablo de Yturbe said the dwindling water levels at the park may have an adverse effect on the wildlife and the tourists it draws.
The 1,200-acre park is home to 220 species of birds. The park is the largest of the World Birding Center locations.
"People come from all over the country to the Valley to see birds that … Click to Read More
03/15/2013 09:48 PM
HIDALGO COUNTY - High salt concentrations in the region limit the possibility of drilling for water, experts said.
The bed of a lake north of Edinburg is pure salt. The lake, La Sal del Rey, is dry. Experts said that salt saturation is what makes the Valley rely on the Rio Grande for water.
"We have a couple of tracks in our refuge that are our salt lakes," Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge Manager Jennifer Owen-White.
La Sal del Rey once held water.
"I was out here ma… Click to Read More
03/15/2013 08:44 PM
MISSION - The city of Mission is one of the few cities with enough water to avoid imposing restrictions on its residents.
The city gets its water from United Irrigation district. Mission is surrounded by cities under water restrictions.
Irrigation District 3, to the east of the city, is under a 60-day water notice. Irrigation District 16, to the west of Mission, has the same notice. United Irrigation District is not under any notices.
Mission residents are under volunt… Click to Read More
03/15/2013 03:31 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Cameron County official are demanding that Mexico repay its water debt.
They said that water would provide some relief from the drought.
Cameron County leaders said Mexico owes the United States nearly 400 acre-feet of water. An acre foot is amount needed to cover one acre with one foot of water, or roughly 326,000 gallons. The current debt exceeds 130 million gallons.
Cameron County leaders on Thursday passed a resolution asking the U.S. Department of St… Click to Read More
03/15/2013 03:26 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Strong winds and dry conditions are elevating the risk of fires in the area, National Weather Service officials said.
NWS officials said red-flag warnings will become more common in the Rio Grande Valley.
"We're seeing more (warnings), partially because we're in such a dry pattern. The relative humidity is low. ... When we get the winds, we also have the lower humidity so it's a greater fire danger," Justing Gibbs said. He is with the NWS in Brownsville.… Click to Read More
03/14/2013 07:10 PM
WESLACO - The drought is intensifying in the Rio Grande Valley, experts said. They said it worsened in just two weeks.
"The intensity of this drought is exceptional," Justin Gibbs said. He is with the National Weather Service in Brownsville. "This is as bad as it gets."
Gibbs said the Valley is dryer now than it has ever been in history. He said the weather service can only watch as things get worse.
"We went from, ‘this doesn't look good,' to, ‘we're reall… Click to Read More
03/13/2013 09:06 PM
WESLACO - Scientists are working to lessen the impact the drought is having on Rio Grande Valley farmers.
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension researchers are studying weather patterns and collecting water-use data. The project aims to teach farmers how to use water more efficiently.
Researchers are trying to determine the amount of water plants need.
Still, some crops require a lot of water, farmers said.
"I have to water, without rain, every three weeks," Donald … Click to Read More
03/12/2013 08:32 PM
WESLACO - The drought is forcing some Rio Grande Valley farmers to switch crops. The change may be costly, experts said.
"Sorghum doesn't pay as much as corn, but at least we'll make something," farmer Wesley Valerius said.
Valerius said sorghum requires fewer waterings.
"Corn takes three waterings to make a corn crop - minimum. With sorghum, we can get by with two," Valerius said.
Experts said farmers will see decreased yields as a result of the drought.… Click to Read More
03/11/2013 07:09 PM
STARR COUNTY - Rio Grande City leaders have asked residents to limit their water consumption.
The city relies solely on the Rio Grande for its water. The city also provides pathways for water that supplies El Sauz, El Tanque Water Corporation and Rio Water Supply. That more than doubles the city's water load.
"This year is shaping up to be a very, very challenging one," Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said.
The city does not rely on irrigation districts to get i… Click to Read More
03/11/2013 04:28 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Laguna Madre Water District officials have ordered restrictions for their customers.
The restrictions will affect residents in Laguna Vista, Laguna Heights, Port Isabel and South Padre Island. The cities now are under stage-two water conservation.
Residents in the affected cities will be allowed to water outdoors only twice a week. Watering on Sundays is not allowed, LMWD officials said.
03/11/2013 04:27 PM
BROWNSVILLE - There are no plans to implement water restrictions in the Rio Grande Valley's largest city, Brownsville officials said.
Brownsville Public Utilities Board officials said the drought has not impacted the city's water supply.
Still, BPUB officials said residents should conserve water.
03/07/2013 11:59 AM
EDINBURG - Water restrictions in Edinburg are starting immediately. There's a change to the schedule. People in Edinburg can only water twice a week.
Odd-numbered businesses and homes are allowed to water on Wednesday and Saturday. Even number addresses can water on Thursdays and Sundays.
No watering is allowed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Watering times run from midnight to 10 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight.
The washing of vehicles, trucks, trailers, bo… Click to Read More
03/06/2013 06:58 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Rio Hondo officials said they are preparing for the day water runs out.
City leaders and water officials received notice that irrigation water is expected to run out in May.
"We've been notified via letter from Cameron County Irrigation District 2, that later this year they anticipate running out of irrigation water," East Rio Hondo Water Supply Company Director Brian Macmanus said.
"They anticipate running out of water in late May or early June," Macm… Click to Read More
03/06/2013 04:37 PM
SEBASTIAN - Rio Grande Valley hay growers said they may be forced to cease operations if the drought persists.
Farmer Wesley Valerius said the nearly four-year drought has forced him to make drastic changes to the way he does business.
Valerius said he has been forced to reduce the number of times he irrigates his fields. He watered eight times a year. Water restrictions now allow him to irrigate twice a year, he said.
"There's nothing better than mother nature's sweet… Click to Read More
03/05/2013 10:15 PM
WESLACO - The city of Weslaco was placed on notice by Texas officials after it failed to comply with the state's potable water guidelines.
State environmental board officials said Weslaco officials did not properly disinfect drinking water in January. The city did not post the notification until March 1.
The notice states that the city failed to meet the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's minimum water standards for public consumption.
Weslaco officials said a… Click to Read More
03/05/2013 03:36 PM
McALLEN - A new reservoir in south McAllen will help extend the city's water supply, officials said.
"What this does is turn that three days into eight. And while it might not sound like a lot, you're more than doubling the days of storage," McAllen Public Utilities General Manager Roy Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the drought is having a sever impact throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the state. He said cities are looking for options in the wake of a water dispute between … Click to Read More
03/04/2013 07:18 PM
WESLACO - The drought affecting the Rio Grande Valley has become an international issue.
Mexico owes the United States millions of gallons of water, and state leaders fear they will never see a drop of that debt.
The United States is supposed to get a third of the water from the Rio Conchos. Mexico has not released that water.
"That's our raw water," Raymondville Water Treatment Supervisor Javier Rodriguez said. Geographically, Raymondville is the last on the list for … Click to Read More
02/28/2013 06:35 PM
WESLACO - The persistent drought affecting the Rio Grande Valley may soon impact the price of beef at local stores.
The lack of rain affects grain production, which in turn impacts the beef industry, experts said.
The possible increase could affect some small businesses.
The Agero family owns Carmen's Tortilleria and Rey's Meat Market. The businesses are trying to make a name for themselves. Now, the Ageros worry about making a profit.
"I've noticed that beef a… Click to Read More
02/25/2013 06:35 PM
WESLACO - The persistent drought affecting the Rio Grande Valley may cause water rates to increase, officials said.
Irrigation districts are running too low and some may run out of the vital fluid in the next two months, officials said.
Some districts already have received a 60-day notice informing them they will run out of water. The irrigation districts help carry water to several Valley cities.
The districts also supply water used for farming.
One farmer sai… Click to Read More
02/25/2013 04:36 PM
MISSION - The severe drought is affecting maintenance at Rio Grande Valley cemeteries, local residents said.
Rosie Jimenez said it hasn't been easy keeping the grass green at her parents' graves.
"I make the effort for my parents," Jimenez said.
The drought has affected many areas at Valley Memorial Gardens in Mission.
"The grass has been dying. And even if they change the grass, it will only be green for a week or two," Marilou Prudencio said.
People a… Click to Read More
01/28/2013 12:02 PM
WESLACO - The U.S. Drought Monitor is reporting much of the Rio Grande Valley remains under an exceptional drought. The lack of water means the Valley is considered a disaster area.
Even with an upcoming cold front, the area isn't expecting rain to put a dent in the drought conditions.
FIRST WARN 5 meteorologist Lisa Villegas explains, "Parts of the Valley would need up to nine inches of rain just to get out of the drought."
The Rio Grande Valley would need to see near… Click to Read More
12/01/2012 10:42 PM
Harlingen - Citrus growers picking smaller fruit and spending more on water bills this year.
Due to dry conditions valley citrus are smaller this year than years past.
Valley farmers unable to rely on rain water are being forced to spend money on irrigation.
One valley farmer and dentist Doctor Juan Villarreal grows organic oranges in Harlingen. He says he has spent double the money keep the crops alive this year, "We usually irrigate five to six times a year. But this… Click to Read More