Brownsville Man Still Waiting for Drainage Ditch to be Clear
BROWNSVILLE – An overgrown ditch continues causing concern for a Brownsville couple who’ve tried to get the problem resolved for years.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS first got involved six months ago, informing county leaders of the problem.
“I’ll personally call the irrigation district to find out if they are involved here. I might just have to bring all the same parties in place. We can all meet and go to Mr. Gutierrez’s home and they can all take a look at it. They can bring their own planners and surveyors as well,” Cameron County Commissioner Pct. 2 Alex Dominguez said back in October.
The ditch near Jose Gutierrez’s home remains the same. He said he fears the mess will cause his home to flood.
“Trees have been growing, and the water doesn’t run like it used to. I know it’s going to flood,” he said.
Gutierrez said he’s reached out to county commissioners, Cameron County Irrigation District No. 6 and Cameron County Drainage District No. 1 hoping someone will clean up the mess.
“It used to be cleaned before when another manager used to be in charge. But apparently, I don’t know why this one doesn’t clean it,” he said.
We went to the Irrigation District No. 6 office to find out what is being done to fix the issue.
Irrigation District No. 6 General Manager Tito Nieto would only answer our questions off camera. He showed us maps which he claims show no record the ditch belongs to his district.
Gutierrez’s property deed does show the district owns the easement.
Nieto said right now they are preparing for peak irrigation season. Even if the district wanted to help Gutierrez out of courtesy, it does not have the funding or machinery needed to clear out the ditch.
We also called Drainage District No. 1 in Brownsville, who Gutierrez pays taxes to.
An employee with the drainage district named Mary said the ditch doesn’t belong to them. She added the board members and general manager have spoken to Gutierrez many times, and although they feel for him, they can’t help him.
Gutierrez is 84 years old, recently had hip replacement surgery and is diagnosed with ALS. He said if he could, he would take care of the issue on his own.
“When we knew there was a hurricane coming or heavy rain or something like that, we used to travel back and forth on the ditch and pull anything out that would clog the pipes. But now I can’t do it,” he said.
Gutierrez wants the runaround to stop and is asking the rightful party to take responsibility.
“I need help – the whole neighborhood needs help,” he said.
Dominguez said it’s also been hard for him to get the answers he needs. He mentioned it’s been back and forth between the drainage district and irrigation district.
He’s now planning to get the county engineers involved to track down the party responsible.
Gutierrez hopes it doesn’t take another six months to get the county leaders moving.
Cameron County Emergency Manager Tom Hushen said the county has submitted requests for projects that would help improve three flood-prone areas.
A $1 million request was made to help clear out an overgrown ditch at the Paso Real Subdivision near Brownsville.
Funding from the federal government could be approved as soon as May.
Federal funds have also been requested to improve drainage in the Olmito and Mariposa Ranch near La Feria.