Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Arroyos Safe Near Cement Lake

Cement Lake

Recently on social media there has been some concern expressed about what TxDOT might be doing to some arroyos. Is TxDOT filling in the arroyos as it continues its massive freeway building project, Go 10 El Paso? The answer is "NO".

TxDOT Regional Engineer, Bob Bielek, says that he is unaware of any arroyos being filled in. Doing so, he said, "would violate the environmental finding for either project."

I asked the Dean of Open Space, Charlie Wakeem, why are natural arroyos so important. Charlie cited an essay by Rex Funk: "Albuquerque's Environmental Story, Educating for a Sustainable Community, Environmental Topic: Arroyos" He paraphrased Funk in order to make the topic relevant to El Paso. Charlie used these words as an argument to preserve Resler Canyon, a natural arroyo. He says that they are the "best reason I've used for arguing for the importance of natural arroyos."

"El Paso is a unique place in many ways.  One contributing element is the natural drainage system of arroyos.  Most of these arroyos carry runoff from the Franklin Mountains and escarpments to the Rio Grande and are dry most of the year.  They flow most heavily from mid-summer to early fall, during a period we call our monsoon season.

"Originally these arroyos meandered freely across the land responding to the volume and velocity of storm water runoff, thereby creating large flood plains and alluvial fans.

"Natural arroyos are rich in plant life due to the soil moisture that remains after runoff events.  The abundant vegetation attracts a concentration of native wildlife in search of food and shelter."

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