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The Devil’s Corner

2013 March 4

By Regina Klepikow

 
     I grew up in South Texas. My father’s family was from Laredo, Texas and occupied a half a block of El Rincon del Diablo, the Devils Corner for years and still do to this very day. My father was born on one of the first streets in America, Ventura Street. The house he grew up in had minimal luxuries and his back yard was the Rio Grande. As a child, my brothers and I would visit our aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived there. We would play kick ball in the open area next to our families’ houses. We could clearly see the U.S Border Patrol Bridge and across that Mexico. We used to explore the edge of the Rio Grande and skip rocks across its waters. When I was walking along the banks, I could clearly see trails and personal belongings that others had left behind. Into the dark murky waters of the Rio Grande, I watched even darker waters pouring into the river from drains and spouts at various points along the bank. As a kid, no one really thinks of water quality and the health impacts of poor waters; but I thought in my mind that something was amiss.

 

     Growing up, I always wondered who was in charge of the river. I thought there has to be someone out there that checks up on this. As I did some research, I found some articles written by EPA about the water quality of the Rio Grande, and realized that Mexico was not subject to our policies. Upon entering college, I wrote an essay about Water Quality in the Rio Grande for a scholarship.

     Now that I am out of college and an EPA employee, I have learned a lot about our nation’s water bodies. I feel that I am an important part of analyzing our water quality here in Region 7. I have analyzed water samples for inorganic contaminants, nutrients, and currently for microbiological contaminants. I never thought that I would ever be doing something that pertained to my scholarship essay or my childhood thoughts. It seems as though it has all come full circle.

     Region 7 has a great app called KCWaterBug.  During warmer months, I use this app a lot. My daughter and I love to go out to our local creeks and rivers to look for fossils and insects. She has a large insect collection and we are building on our fossil collection. Upon checking the app, my daughter and I will determine if we will go to a nearby stream or wait for another day. If the water quality is good, we go on a little hike. It is fun to pass time by skipping rocks and following the banks and turning over rocks. It is even better when we come across fossils like Rugose coral or fossilized bivalves. We have also run across others who search for fossils or arrowheads along the banks too. Hopefully some day, my daughter will recall our fossil hunting trips as fondly as I remember skipping rocks back near the Devil’s Corner. I know she is just as interested in learning how to restore and preserve our waters for the two of us to enjoy, and one day, for her own children.

 

Regina Klepikow was born and grew up in south Texas. She relocated to Kansas City with her family in the 90’s where she attended high school and college. She loves art and photography but not wanting to live the life of a starving artist she majored in Biology. Currently she is a Life Scientist at the Region 7 Laboratory. In order to let her artistic creativity out, she has devoted herself iPhone photography and is avid Instagrammer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Joel Healy permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Great article!!!!

  2. Laura permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Cool!

  3. roberta permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Nice – I unfortunatly got as sick as I’ve ever been after doing an impromptu barehanded sampling of the Rio Grande at Neuvo Laredo while interview people waiting to cross over for a film (all with the permission of the border guards.

    • jrobicha permalink*
      March 4, 2013

      Next time pack a pair of nitrile in your backpack…you’ll never know when you’ll need them!

      • roberta permalink
        March 6, 2013

        No doubt! and I can spell Nuevo

  4. David Wilson permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Super Cool! And GO iPhones!

  5. Angelica Hutting permalink
    March 4, 2013

    I am proud to know you, Gina. I never realized the roots of your passion for the environment. I remember going to those places you mentioned in Texas; I never took notice of the water. You are a special person who is making a real difference in the world, not only in your work, but in your home. So many people preach about environmental topics, but do not teach these important values to their children. By equipping your daughter with your knowledge and passion, you are equipping the world with another person who will make a difference….another person like you.

  6. FLORENTINO CAMACHO JR. permalink
    March 4, 2013

    REGINA, AS YOUR DAD I AM SO PROUD OF YOU AND YOUR PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE JUSTICE FACTOR FOR ALL OF MANKIND.THE FACT THE YOU ARE TEACHING YOUR DAUGHTER ABOUT YOUR WORK BY TAKING HER OUT WITH YOU AND TEACHING HER ONE ON ONE IS SO COOL.

    I USED TO GO SWIMMING WITH MY COUSINS IN THE SUMMERS.BUT WHEN AMERICAN COMPANIES WENT INTO MEXICO THIER ARE NO LAWS OF WHAT THEY CAN POUR INTO THE RIO GRANDE RIVER.CANCER CASES ARE UP ON BOTH SIDES OF THE RIVER FOR YEARS.

    I SIGN WAS PUT UP YEARS AGO ABOUT SWIMMING AT YOUR OWN RISK.I HAVE WATCH MANY WOMEN AND CHILDERN SWIMMING ACROSS TO THE U.S.A. FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM.I STILL WONDER HOW MANY GOT CANCER OR OTHER ILLNESS AND HAVE ALREADY DIED.

    GREAT WORK AND I DID NOT KNOW YOU KNEW ABOUT THE DEVIL’S CORNER.NOT TO MNY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT.GOD BLESS YOU REGINA!

    FROM :YOUR PROUD DAD AND MOM.
    MARCH 04-2013.

  7. Sylvia C. Martinez permalink
    March 4, 2013

    GINA PROUD OF YOU FROM SAN ANTONIO. LOVE YOU TIA AND TIO MARTINEZ

  8. Lisa Sirridge permalink
    March 5, 2013

    Great story! I particularly like how the old memories and the memories being created today are connected by your curiosity and interest in streams and rivers. Funny how we take something as simple as water for granite….lucky to have people like you working hard to keep the environment safe. Also, I find the KCWaterBug app interesting!

  9. Katherine J. Camacho permalink
    March 5, 2013

    Yes,….. I too remember all of those things. Thanks for sharing with everyone.
    Luv ya,
    MOM

  10. Jonny Wilco permalink
    March 8, 2013

    Great work, brings back memories of my childhood. Its nice to know someone else has know the magic of devils corner.

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