The owner and operator of a new Coastal Bend correctional center in Robstown recently announced it would be funding a clean-up project in Petronila Creek.
The construction of a wastewater treatment facility to serve the LCS Detention Center was a hot button issue during a public meeting held in June by LCS Corrections Services Inc. to listen to residents' concerns.
Petronila Creek has been the subject of controversy since it stopped completely flowing under the recent drought conditions. Residents said overgrowth and lack of water have contributed to an eyesore and a place that has encouraged illegal dumping.
LCS officials said a plan is being devised, at the company's own expense, to provide heavy equipment and personnel to clear four major blockages in Petronila Creek. These blockages consist of old boats, cars, appliances and other debris, which all disrupt the water flow. Work began earlier this week on the project.
The move addresses a concern raised by the South Texas Colonia Initiative during the June meeting about the possibility that the blockages would create a situation in which the clean water being released by the wastewater treatment facility could eventually turn stagnant and full of bacteria.
LCS officials said the agreement also signals a compromise between the two sides - LCS will clean the creek in exchange for citizens' blessing for continued construction on the new facility.
Robstown native and District 34 state Rep. Abel Herrero said last week that he was pleased with the outcome of negotiations from all of the parties involved.
"We are proud to see that so many problems in our community can be solved by bringing the parties together to address mutual concerns in public," Herrero said. "We have encouraged this approach in several issues in the district this year and it has yielded positive results again and again."
The LCS detention center's construction is expected to increase the flow of water and kick start the stream once again.
With the consent of residents, LCS has also agreed to clean up illegal dumping and with the increased presence of law enforcement in the area, it is expected that future dumping will be reduced if not eliminated.
"We must be sure to protect the natural features in our neighborhoods. Government should continue to work with those in the community to get results," Herrero said.
The facility is scheduled to be by late summer, LCS officials said.