We have something here that is exclusive to Cameron county in south Texas called resacas. They were made in 1918-1928 to bring fresh water for irrigation to the farmers. Ours is privately owned by Bayview Irrigation district and is not used for drinking water. The ones in Brownsville and San Benito are owned by the city and are used for drinking water(before using it they send it thru a water treatment plant). Los Fresnos has resacas too but I don't think they use them for drinking water.
When hurricanes and storms would hit in this area, the Rio Grande would flood and sometimes change course for a while, then when the waters went back down, it left dry riverbeds. The farmers decided to clean these out, connect them and fill them with fresh water. They used mule teams and steam shovels and hand labor to dig them. That's how the resacas came about. Resaca means "reborn" in Spanish.
Here is the one that borders my property. This is taken from the roadway and if you look in the front center, you can see the lock for a gate that shuts off the water. There are locks all along the resaca so flow can be controlled.
Here is the one close to where I work. They have a lot of water hyacinths in the San Benito resaca system. They spray them and scoop them out and they just come back. They have started using them in the sewage treatment ponds because they are great for cleaning the water so they scoop them out of the resacas with a backhoe, put in a dump truck and take them to the ponds.
A channel in Port Isabel which is not the same thing. The channels are salt water, the resacas are fresh water. When they get contaminated with too much salt, they drain and refill them. It is a slow process and takes about a month to drain, then refill the resaca. The gates make it possible to only refresh the water in one section at a time. They also come in handy when the nutrias have damaged a wall causing it to cave in. That section can be closed off and the wall repaired without losing all the water in the system.
This is a salt water channel.
I forgot to say how wide these are. They can be 50 to 400 ft wide. I also had the dates wrong. San Benito had the first ones and they were completed in 1906. Bayview finished theirs later. The Arroyo Colorado is another big water feature here. It is used for barge traffic and recreation. I've got a picture of it, just have to find it.
Oh yeah, like the channels in Port Isabel? I had an idea people couldn't picture what they were. There is a beautiful resaca that I'm going to pass today and I'll try to get a picture if the traffic isn't too bad.
We pay a flat fee, the farms are metered. The farms call the irrigation district office and order their water(they are allowed so much water per year, in foot acres), they turn the pump on and it runs thru a meter. If they use more than their alloted water they can buy rights from another farm.
Our pumps are much smaller than the farm pumps.
The main resacas never dry up unless something happens to let all the water out. I know one resaca had an invasion of the nutrias(big rat looking things that are as big as a small dog) that tunneled into the side and caved it in and the water ran out(the water master lost a truck that day but he wasn't hurt). The irrigation companies have a contract with two resevoirs north of us that supply a steady amount of water. I don't think they've all gone dry at one time.
Our resaca(the one by my house) is very low right now, someone who doesn't pay for water opened the main drain gate and took the water. It's filling back up slowly. Whoever did it opened the gate at night. Someone did it a few months ago and they put a chain and lock on the gate. This time they found an old gate and opened it, they broke it. North of us there are old resaca beds that aren't used any longer, the water runs into them when the gates are opened and I guess it's hard to figure out who did it, haven't heard that anyone has been caught.
Ah don't worry about me scoot, I'll send a posse from the neighborhood(the neighborhood watch guys need something to do, they're gettin restless!). I think I heard them mention something about dynamite, lol.
I've got water again, they patched the hole but haven't caught the guilty water-nappers yet.
I heard the whistling ducks this morning, they were happy they had more than a mud puddle to play in.