The Agua Special Utility District plans to work with the city of Peñitas and the city of Palmview to test fire hydrants in western Hidalgo County.
Under the plan, Agua SUD — which provides water in much of western Hidalgo County — would partner with local firefighters to test hydrants.
Agua SUD and Peñitas approved an agreement in July. Palmview may approve a similar agreement in August.
“It’s something that, when it was brought to my attention, I was all in favor of,” said utility board President Homer Tijerina.
The partnership will address a basic public safety problem in many parts of western Hidalgo County.
Cities may require fire hydrants, but Agua SUD doesn’t regulate them. As a result, some residential subdivisions include fire hydrants with insufficient pressure. Other fire hydrants simply don’t work.
“We’re not responsible for them, but we do provide the water,” Tijerina said.
State law requires public water systems in Hidalgo County to mark hydrants that aren’t available for fire suppression with black paint.
Hydrants available “to be used only to fill a water tank on a fire truck” must be marked with white paint, according to the law, which state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, passed in 2013.
The law allows local governments to pick other colors in certain circumstances.
Thanks to the partnership between Peñitas and Agua SUD, a utility district employee will be present when firefighters test the hydrants. They’ll mark the hydrants accordingly.
The tests may also provide a roadmap for maintenance and the addition of new hydrants as rural parts of the county urbanize.
“Agua SUD is not required by law to provide the service to the community,” said Peñitas City Attorney Jose L. Caso. “But they’re still doing it.”