Depending on the dictionary, reference book or online resource consulted, the word “resaca” may not even be listed.

A resaca is unique to Cameron County in deep South Texas and is an abandoned, isolated remnant of the Rio Grande, according to Jaime Flores, watershed coordinator of the Arroyo Colorado in South Texas for the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

“Theses resacas formed the old conveyance routes for flood water from the Rio Grande when the river flowed unchecked, before dams were built upriver in the 1950s to manage yearly floods,” Flores said. “This natural flow from the Rio Grande has now been cut off from the resacas and today water must be pumped into the resacas to maintain water levels between rainfall events.”

The word resaca is thought to originate from one or a combination of two Spanish terms: rio seco, which means dry river, or resacar, meaning to retake, Flores said. Either way, resacas are unique water features whose water quality must be addressed and improved, he said.

A free workshop open to anyone interested in improving water quality in the region will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 9 at the Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club, northeast of Brownsville at 1 Rancho Viejo Drive.

The workshop is presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in cooperation with the Texas Water Resources Institute.

“This training is designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by becoming involved in local watershed protection and management activities,” said Michael Kuitu, AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator for the Texas Watershed Steward program in College Station.

The workshop will address issues related to the Brownsville-Resaca watershed but will be applicable to all watershed areas in the region, Kuiti said.

The training will include a discussion of watershed systems, types and sources of water pollution, and ways to improve and protect water quality. There will also be a group discussion about community-driven watershed protection and management.

“Many of our resacas are beautifully landscaped and offer a water feature unique in the world,” Flores said.

Besides their aesthetics, he said, they are important for other reasons. They serve as a habitat and water resource for flora and fauna in an important migratory flyway of the world, help drainage by serving as a stormwater storage site, serve as municipal reservoirs, have microclimate benefits, allow for recreation and ecotourism and have economic development potential as areas for a boardwalk or riverwalk.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to help improve and maintain the water quality of these unique resacas that are part of the iconic South Texas landscape,” he said.

Varying amounts of continuing education units are available to professionals who attend, including geoscientists, pesticide license holders, landscape architects, floodplain managers and  occupational licensees of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

For more information, contact Flores at (956) 969-5607.