The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.Read more
On any given day, a new archeological site could appear along the shores of Falcon Reservoir. The water level is rarely steady and the sandy soil is constantly moving with the shifting water and waves.
“It’s dynamic down here at Falcon Lake,” said Mark Howe, the cultural resource specialist for the International Boundary and Water Commission. “People have been living here for more than 10,000 years … [w]e are just trying to save what we can.”
The reservoir flooded two towns and Spanish settlements dating back to 1767, according to Texas Beyond History. The ranchos the Spanish established were built on top of Indian encampments and started the cattle industry in what would become Texas.
The place is literally littered with history and it is Howe’s job to protect what can be protected, when it is found.
Howe was at Falcon Dam checking on a few projects. He and Juan Uribe, the area operations manager, helped me portage the dam while giving me the lay of the land.
It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I used up all my cushion time for the day talking to them about Falcon Dam and the historic sites farther downstream.
By noon, I was behind schedule and had to race the sun to get to Roma, 16 miles downstream, before dark.
I'm now cruising waters that were once the domain of steam-powered paddleboats and home to small towns that were some of the first settlements in what would become the United States. It’s a place that has been a frontier for more than 400 years.
I just hope I don't get lost in the stories or the shifting sand.
To comment on this post or ask a question, please visit the expedition's Facebook page.
As they travel, Colin and Erich are taking water samples for the following periodic water quality tests. In partnership with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Program at Texas State University, the results will be added to a public database it helps maintain for research and monitoring water quality.
While making his way to the Gulf of Mexico, Colin will be periodically activating a device that uses satellite technology to share his current location. Use this map to see where he traveled on this day.
|Check-In||Time of Check-In (CST)||Latitude||Longitude|
To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.
He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.
The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.
The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.