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AGUA SUD receives $6M for wastewater project

The Agua Special Utility District is closer to finishing their multimillion-dollar project to bring a wastewater and sewer system to their customers in Palmview.

During a press conference held Saturday, May 30, Agua SUD officials, along with officials from the city of Palmview and U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, announced that a key component of the project will be paid by a grant from the North American Development Bank.

Members of the Agua Special Utility District and Palmview City Council with U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar at a presentation for a $6 million grant for Agua SUD Saturday, May 30, 2020. Courtesy photo.

NADB will fully fund a $6 million project to hook up 2,000 Agua SUD customers in Palmview to the utility district’s incoming $42 million wastewater and sewer treatment plant.

The project, which started in 2017 after decades of trying to get it off the ground, is nearing completion Palmview Mayor Ricardo “Ricky” Villarreal said.

“We’ve been working for several years now and are at the tail end of this and are very happy that we are at the phase we are at now,” Villarreal said. “We’ve waited for over 20 years now for this and with the help of all our constituents and surrounding areas, we are thanking you for getting this done.”

The federal funds were awarded through the NADB’s Border Environment Infrastructure Fund program, Cuellar said.

“This project will provide first time access to wastewater collection services for 2,000 households in the Palmview area,” Cuellar said. “The community will greatly benefit from this. There will be a little bit of money left and I want [Agua SUD] to work with NADB and the city to make sure we utilize all the money. I don’t want the money to be sent back in any form, it’s a lot of money and there’s a lot of need here.”

Agua SUD General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz said the sewer hookups would commence by the end of June.

“We are finalizing contracts and once we have that going, we will have a pre-construction meeting later this month and then the constructor will have 10 days to get started on this one-year contract,” Saenz said.

According to Villarreal, Palmview residents need an adequate wastewater treatment center and cited a study done by the city that looked at waterborne diseases in the area.

“It looked at E. coli and similar viruses and found the rate of people getting stomach viruses and bacteria in Palmview from the wastewater is much higher compared to our sister cities because of the septic tanks we have,” Villarreal said.

Ken McQueen, Region 6 administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, said the sewer hookups will treat an estimated 900,000 gallons of wastewater per day, providing multiple health benefits for the community.

“Providing water infrastructure in the border region is part of the EPA’s core mission,” McQueen said. “It brings the benefits of wastewater to underserved areas and improves public health on both sides of the border. We continue to reduce and eliminate untreated wastewater discharge in the RGV and this remains a key goal to us. There are needs in this region. We look forward to seeing the benefits this will bring to the residents of Palmview.”

A sewer system is something Agua SUD has been working to bring to customers for years, Agua board President Lloyd Loya said.

“This has been a board priority for the last few years to connect these families to a safe and sanitary sewer system in the history of Palmview,” Loya said. “The complaint here has been ‘How come our sister cities Peñitas and La Joya have sewer systems but we can’t?’ This will go far into improving the quality of life and we hope to keep this partnership open.”

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