In 2009, the city of Presidio, Texas needed an easement to construct a pipeline that would transport treated effluent from their wastewater plant into the Rio Grande River. The city and the local landowners—the Bishop family, whose family has farmed the Presidio Valley for decades—reached an agreement whereby the family could reuse the effluent waste in exchange for easement rights.
In 2011, in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund, Trans Pecos Water and Land Trust (TPWLT), and Terry Bishop, Fred Phillips Consulting honed that vision and wrote a successful grant application to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Treated effluent would be smartly used to reestablish wetland and riparian vegetation within a 12-acre fallow farm field and inform future restoration projects for over 300 species of birds occurring in the Rio Grande region. The grant paid for the design, construction, and short term maintenance of the BBWP. Our firm and Oxbow Ecological Engineering were then retained to design and construct the project in conjunction with TPWLT and the Bishops’ Presidio Valley Farms.
Fred Phillips Consulting and Oxbow Ecological Engineering worked with project stakeholders to develop site grading, planting, and water structure plans. Design plans called for water control structures and levees in order to effectively manage site water levels, sustainable harvesting of 90% of required plant materials from nearby wastewater treatment ponds, and the construction of electrical fence barriers to keep feral hogs and dogs out of the wetland area.
The final grading plan includes excavation of 5,000 cubic yards of dirt to create the different plant terraces within the wetlands. The final planting plan includes three acres of deep marsh (Giant bulrush), five acres of shallow marsh (Three square bulrush), two acres of transitional grass habitat (Alkalai sacaton and salt grass), and two acres of riparian habitat (cottonwood/willow/mesquite stands). Jeff Bennett and Big Bend National Park generously donated native seed stock, while Austin-based American Youth Works Texas Conservation Corps (TXCC) executed the plantings under our firm’s supervision.
Since completion the BBWP has been thriving. The wetlands now process 50,000 GPD of effluent in the summer and over 150,000 GPD in the winter. Birders, locals, and researchers visit the site to witness the biodiversity firsthand. Sul Ross University is using it as a research site. As of spring 2018, a site visit revealed the presence of great blue herons, king fishers, black necked stilts, white faced ibis, red tail hawks, and red winged black birds.
Trans Pecos Water and Land Trust
Rio Grande River, Presidio, Texas / 2015-2016
Oxbow Ecological Engineering, Bishop Family Farm, Texas Conservation Corps, David Crum, Environmental Defense Fund, Big Bend National Park