Residents Hopeful, Concerned with Rise in Water Levels
SAN YGNACIO – Falcon Dam is bearing the brunt of floodwaters headed towards the Rio Grande Valley, as the Rio Grande River crests in Laredo following days of rain.
The dam operated outside of Zapata is the only obstacle between flooded Laredo and homes in the Valley.
In Falcon Lake, where the water level rose four to five feet, people see the change as both a benefit and concern.
Zapata County Fire Chief Juan Meza is keeping an eye on the neighborhood near Beacon Lodge as heavy floodwaters from the Arroyo Salado flow into the lake from Mexico.
"It's gotta make a turn towards the dam," said Meza, referring to the indirect path the Arroyo Salado's discharge must take. "That's where it pushes water towards town."
Early Thursday, the International Boundary and Water Commission reported the dam was at 25 percent capacity after sitting at 21 percent last week.
Meza said local water utility crews are benefitting. They will spend less time extending infrastructure into the lakebed.
"As the water's going down they have to move their pumps, extend their lines, extend their electrical wiring," said Meza.
Fishermen also see the benefit or rising water levels.
Falcon Lake Tackle owner James Bendele said young fish were having a hard time surviving to adulthood.
"There's no real cover for young fish and baby fish to flourish in," said Bendele.
The bass fishing economy suffered for two years he said.
"We pretty much depend on the lake for the survival," added Bendele.
The rain waters flowing now bring hope.