Congressman Cuellar Announces Inclusion of Chacon Creek Rehabilitation Study in Water Resources Development Act
Projects marks key step forward in Congressman Cuellar’s fight to rehabilitate Laredo creek
Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved language in H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA, pronounced WUR-duh), to authorize a feasibility study on rehabilitating Chacon Creek in Laredo. The committee unanimously approved this legislation today. The language provides for a study on the feasibility of flood damage reduction, ecosystem restoration, and recreation along the creek and will turn the area, which has become a serious flood risk, into a vibrant and pleasant part of the cityscape. Congressman Cuellar has been a strong supporter of the Chacon Creek revitalization and other revitalization projects in the 28th District, working with stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels to improve the quality of life for his constituents. Authorization for this feasibility study is a key step forward toward revitalizing Chacon Creek.
The Chacon Creek watershed drains 155 square miles in Webb County, a greater area than any other watershed in the Laredo area. In 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers found that 73 residential structures along Chacon Creek will need to be permanently evacuated due to risk of flooding. The fear is that a large storm could produce dangerous runoff, harm human lives, and damage structures, including bridges and drainage structures, to the tune of around $20 million. The City of Laredo is taking measures to mitigate the risk, including buying properties within the flood plain, but federal assistance is needed.
Under the bill, the Secretary of the Army has the authorization to begin a feasibility study on Chacon Creek, meaning that the Army Corps of Engineers may begin to study the viability of rehabilitating the area.
“I have been working for many years to rehabilitate the Chacon Creek area and make it a safer and more pleasant area for the people of Laredo to use, so I look forward to seeing what can come from the newly authorized feasibility study,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Laredoans currently have to deal with a Chacon Creek that poses a flood risk and couldn’t until recently be used for recreation. This feasibility study to determine whether construction can go forward will complement well the other work that has already begun to revitalize the Chacon Creek area, such as the hike and bike trail that is currently being constructed in phases alongside it. I would like to thank Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA-9) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4) for helping me secure this language for Laredo. I would also like to thank Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH-7) and Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32) for their help.”
Congressman Cuellar has been working to revitalize the Chacon Creek area since he started in Congress in 2005, when he secured $3.3 million through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act to build the hike and bike trail. Since then, he has worked with the City of Laredo and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the flooding and safety issues.