Cameron County Drainage District Number One was created by the Commissioners’ Court of Cameron County on the 22nd day of January 1910. The creation of the District by the Commissioners’ Court of Cameron County was validated by the Legislature of Texas under Senate Bill Number 240 on 25th day of February 1929. Therefore, Cameron County Drainage District Number One, as it now exists, is a Conservation and Reclamation District under Article 16, Section 59 of the Texas Constitution, having been converted by Chapter 45 of the Session Laws of 1929. Chapter 56 of the Water Code enumerates the specific powers and duties of the District. To a certain extent, Chapter 49 of the Water Code provides supplemental authority for action.
Cameron County Drainage District Number One is bounded to the north by the Cuates Resaca, on the west by the east line of Share Number One, a subdivision of the Espiritu Santo Grant, on the south by the Resaca de la Guerra and the Resaca del Rancho Viejo, on the east between the Resaca del Rancho Viejo and the Resaca de la Guerra, by the east line of Partition Share Number 29, and between the Resaca del Rancho Viejo and the Cuates Resaca by the east line of Partition Share Number 32. The land within the District contains 81, 126 acres of land, more or less; however, the District is only responsible for drainage ditches which it specifically designates, in writing, as being under its care and control.
Throughout most of it’s history, the District operated under the direction of its three member Board. The Board would collect taxes through the County’s Tax Assessor and then contract with private companies to do one or two large projects each year. An engineer was hired to be the custodian of the District’s records, but there was no office and there were no District employees.
In the year 1998, two new Directors were appointed by County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa. It was at that time that the idea came up to create a District office with a public works capabilities. During the year 2000, a District Manager was hired and subsequently given the authority to construct a headquarters building, hire staff, and purchase equipment. In the year 2001, the District constructed a 3,000 square foot office building.
During the same year, the District purchased its first excavator and dozer. Thus began the era of regular in-house maintenance of the District’s ditches. Within the first two years of existence, and with no more than a General Manager, Construction Superintendent, and four heavy equipment operators, the District was able to clean approximately 80 miles of drainage ditches. Shortly thereafter, the General Manager suggested to the Board that they implement a ditch mowing program to increase the efficiency of the ditches and make them more aesthetically pleasing. Over the past few years, this mowing program has grown into a right-of-way maintenance department that has six tractor mowers and a crew to beautify the areas where District ditches intersect with public roadways. The District has now grown to nearly 20 employees and has since constructed an 8,000 square foot parking an vehicle maintenance facility.
During the same time that the Board was establishing its Public Works Department, they also devised a Master Drainage Plan. This Plan was implemented to ease the burden of excess stormwater in the District’s Ditches and to minimize flooding. The Plan included regulations that required developers to mitigate the effects on the District’s drainage system by creating detention ponds. These ponds would enable excess flood water to have a staging area as the ditches moved water toward the ship channel. Throughout the past 8 years, hundreds of acre-feet of stormwater storage area has been created by developers under direction of Drainage District One.
To the Future
The next step in the equation is to implement a SCADA system that will allow District Staff to monitor the flows and water levels in its ditches. This system will also enable staff to remotely open and close flood gates which will greatly help in stormwater management. Due to the District’s efficiency, there has been some talk of expansion by the County. Since the County does not have the proper equipment to maintain drainage ditches, they are looking into having District One annex territory on its south and west sides. District One is currently the cheapest District in the County. The two other functioning drainage districts in the county charge approximately $0.15 per $100 of valuation. District One is able to offer all of it’s services for under four cents per $100 of valuation.