Building Equity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

See more posts about LUCHA and our work in the Rio Grande Valley

Building equity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is a critical part of many of our projects. Together with our partners we are working to increase housing opportunities for low-income residents and to build adequate drainage infrastructure for new and existing neighborhoods, civic engagement, and capacity through design. We invite you to learn more about four of our specific projects: sustainABLEhouse, Drainage Equity, LUCHA, and Public Design Impact Initiative, all of which are working hard to achieve these goals. 

Water Quality Management in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Omar Hakeem and Hugo Colón giving Mehmet Boz and David Dilks a tour of La Hacienda Casitas.

Omar Hakeem and Hugo Colón giving Mehmet Boz and David Dilks a tour of La Hacienda Casitas.

Learn more about the Colonias LID program in the LRGV.

[bc] partnered with Texas A&M Kingsville and the Local Stormwater Taskforce during the 17th Annual Water Quality Management & Planning Conference held in South Padre Island. [bc] showcased the role of stormwater management in various RGV-based projects: RAPIDO, Colonias LID and La Hacienda Casitas

Through the sponsorship of the Surdna Foundation, [bc] brought two stormwater management experts to speak about stormwater management strategies at different scales that could benefit the Lower Rio Grande Valley and its various colonias

Dr. David Dilks, Vice President of LimnoTech, an engineering firm with an international reputation for hydrological modeling, shared his knowledge on the management of floodwaters in low-gradient and rural settings. Dr. Dilks has worked on projects all over the country, but highlighted projects in the DC metro area, as well as an agricultural land management project in the Midwest. Both projects were in very flat topography, so they provided applicable lessons to the Rio Grande Valley.  

In addition, Mehmet BozPh.D., P.E., M.ASCE., and civil practice leader with KCI Technologies in San Antonio, shared his knowledge of Low Impact Development and Water Management in south central TexasDr. Boz taught conference attendees that LID strategies can be used in Texas, where there are issues of drought that coexist with severe flooding. LID strategies have been very well explored on the East Coast, but the strategies need to be different here in Texas due to the climate. He showed ways to improve water quality, mitigate run-off and flooding, add shade and increase vegetation. 


 Mehmet Boz presenting on LID strategies, featuring a rendering done by [bc] for a right of way improvement in a colonia.

 Mehmet Boz presenting on LID strategies, featuring a rendering done by [bc] for a right of way improvement in a colonia.

David Dilks presenting a hydrological model done to study the effects of an LID strategy.

David Dilks presenting a hydrological model done to study the effects of an LID strategy.

Both Dr. Dilks and Dr. Boz will be part of [bc]'s ongoing drainage initiatives in the LRGV as technical advisors through the sponsorship of the Surdna Foundation. [bc] Planning Associate Hugo Colón participated as co-moderator during these two panels. [bc] led Dr. Dilks and Dr. Boz on tours of the area, visiting several colonias and the La Hacienda Casitas

One Day in LRGV

Learn more about our Storytelling efforts, and the Colonias LID program.

On April 26, 2014, filmmakers, non-profits, and citizens from across the region went out to talk to folks about the future of the Lower Rio Grande Valley as part of One Day in the LRGV. We chatted with residents of the Linda Vista Estates Colonia about issues surrounding stormwater management and drainage.

Low Impact Development

Learn more about our Colonias LID project.

The Colonia Stormwater Low Impact Development & Open Space project seeks to provide sustainable drainage infrastructure and open space strategies to Colonias in need. By layering drainage and open space we can create spaces that not only address the problem of flooding, but also provide spaces for gathering and enjoyment. The project addresses the problem of flooding through education, political and community engagement,and design. It seeks to educate Colonia residents and government officials about drainage challenges and the opportunities to improve stormwater infrastructure at the Colonias through Low Impact Development strategies. 

Five stormwater management and open space plans are in development. These can be used by Colonia residents as a tool for advocating change, and by County Officials as a community informed designs for future drainage projects in the Colonias. 

Neighborhood Planning for RGV Colonias

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

LRVG Colonias

The Colonia Neighborhood Plan Implementation Strategies are part of a larger effort to establish a community-based planning framework in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Plans for initial focus colonias, six in Hidalgo County and two in Cameron County, were developed between September 2011 and April 2012 through a participatory process involving colonia residents, community organizers, community-based organizations, planners, and designers. In a departure from previous planning work in the region, this process was organized around a series of meetings in each colonia, inviting community members to contribute and self-appoint neighborhood leaders. These plans identify and offer recommendations to ameliorate issues stemming from geographic isolation, poor physical infrastructure, and limited access to services and resources. Ultimately, this process advances the role of  participatory planning and design in improving the quality of life in the LRGV.  The plans are currently being used at various scales; at the community level, the plans serve as a checklist of goals that the communities have set for themselves while at the state and regional level it is a means of communication with policy makers, funders, non-profits, and regional authorities.

By working as an information gatherer and a technical resource, bcWORKSHOP has contributed to a coalition-wide effort making voices be heard, and playing a participatory role in development and policy making decisions.

This initiative was recognized by the SEED Network with an Honorable Mention for their 2013 Awards.

Check out the plans below: