MPU General Manager Among Texas Water Execs at World Conference in Israel

by The Office of Communications and Media Relations | Oct 30, 2013

McAllen Public Utility General Manager and Assistant City Manager Roel "Roy" Rodriguez, P.E., is among a handful of water experts who just returned from a week in Tel Aviv, Israel with the Texas Water Development Board, October 22-24.

The group attended WATEC Israel 2013. WATEC, which stands for Water Technology and Environment Control, is an exhibition and conference described as the most comprehensive forum where industry executives, academia, institutional investors, venture capitalists, analysts and other experts have the opportunity to shape future collaborations in the water technology arena.

"Obviously, it's a huge honor and honestly I'm humbled that my name came to the surface as a potential candidate for this trip," said Rodriguez, who also serves as a Governor appointed Director of the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority.

Rodriguez said he was asked by McAllen Mayor Jim Darling to be part of Project Interchange, the Texas group traveling to Tel Aviv.  Project Interchange is sponsored by the Texas Water Development Board.

"McAllen Public Utility is in my opinion one of the best run public utilities in the State," said Mayor Darling.  "We are challenged to explore different water availability and conservation opportunities because of our dry climate and dependency on the Rio Grande River."

He added, "This opportunity for Roy to travel and partake in a forum with the world leaders in water technology is very important for McAllen and the lower Rio Grande Valley. We are excited to see what Roy brings back for use in our communities."

The State of Texas, through the Governor's office, has formed a very close relationship with Israel for its innovativeness in water. The Israeli water market is internationally recognized as highly developed, having benefited from many years of experience in managing scarce water resources.

"They're one of the leaders in desalination of sea water and re-use.  They recycle water over and over," Rodriguez said.

The goal is to explore some of their methods locally, as the persistent drought and the region's growing population put a strain on water availability.

"I'd like to see direct potable re-use become a reality in McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley.  That's basically what our vision is, that we will be discharging waste water from McAllen's southwest waste water treatment plant, transporting it back to the reservoirs and then go back to the water plant for drinking water," said Rodriguez, though he believes that option could be years away, as it would require stringent State approvals.

He added, "I think that the current technology is advanced enough to ensure that direct potable reuse is a safe permanent water solution, but it hasn't happened nationwide because of public perception."

According to Rodriguez, areas of west Texas are piloting a potable re-use project, right now.  At the national level, San Diego, California has committed funds to go to direct potable re-use.

"What's the common theme?  These are places where water supply is not only low but it is becoming a serious problem and this is a serious solution," Rodriguez said.

McAllen Public Utility is a leader in the region for water reliability and affordability. MPU has created a system of redundancy through the use of multiple plants with multiple connections and it is increasing safety by replacing the use of chlorine gas with ultraviolet light for wastewater treatment.

Rodriguez said his knowledge gathering visit to Israel and the forward thinking of the Tel Aviv conference are in line with McAllen's culture of long term planning and visionary leadership.

"Here at McAllen Public Utility, it's about what are we going to accomplish for the next generation and I think that's what sets us apart here".

More About Roy Rodriguez
Roel "Roy" Rodriguez, P.E. is the general manager of the McAllen Public Utility where he oversees all operations for water and wastewater for the City of McAllen and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.  He is also an Assistant City Manager for the City of McAllen overseeing the Engineering, Planning, Building Inspections, Informational Technology and Purchasing & Contracting departments.  Mr. Rodriguez previously worked as the City Engineer, Assistant City Manager and City Manager in Harlingen, Texas.  He has also served as Jefferson County Engineer and as Area Engineer in Oklahoma.  Rodriguez has a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering from Texas A&I University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Texas Pan American.