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Arroyo Colorado: Los Fresnos Nature Park LID and Wetland Enhancement

Texas Water Resources Institute installed several low impact development features at a nature park, monitored stormwater features at nearby Los Fresnos High School, and used native vegetation to improve the function of a stormwater wetland.


The Arroyo Colorado flows through Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and into the Laguna Madre. Prior to the start of this project in 2009, the tidal segment of the Arroyo Colorado (2201) did not meet state water quality standards low dissolved oxygen levels, which is important to the health of aquatic life. Historically, the Arroyo has also had concerns for high nutrient levels. Water quality may be further affected by rapid urban growth which places increased pressure on public lands to accommodate rainwater runoff and associated pollutants from developing properties.

The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership developed the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) in 2007 to address low dissolved oxygen and updated it in 2017. The WPP identifies low impact development (LID) as a key management measure for reducing stormwater runoff volume and pollutants entering the waterways.

LID is a comprehensive approach that incorporates or mimics natural processes (e.g., filtration, sedimentation, evapotranspiration) into site planning, design, or redevelopment with the goal of managing surface water runoff volume and reducing pollution as close to the source as possible. Examples include rain gardens, porous pavement, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting for later use. For more information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Low Impact Development webpage.

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Project Description

The Texas Water Resources Institute and the City of Los Fresnos partnered to develop a 20-acre nature park with a bioswale to treat parking lot runoff, a pervious walking trail, a rainwater collection system, and related educational features. Native vegetation was used to enhance the wetland receiving its parking lot runoff.

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For More Information

To find out more about the NPS Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at

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