In a project that has been ongoing for more than a decade, Mission City Council approved the expansion of its sewer services to about 14 subdivisions on the outskirts of the city. Although the project won’t reach completion for about three and half years, Mission is already in the early stages of the process.
The Northwest Colonias Project is phase two of a longstanding effort to expand the city of Mission’s sewer lines. The area of interest runs north to south (between Mile 4 and Mile 7) and east to west (between La Homa and Bentsen roads). Currently, the residents in the area have septic tanks. Assistant City Manager JP Terrazas said the city wants to remove the tanks and implement about 1,000 sewer connections.
According to the scope of services, the construction includes approximately 61,604 feet of gravity sewer pipe, 8,274 feet of force main pipelines, 205 manholes, canal or ditch crossings, and two lift stations required to bring the area to standard working condition.
Mission completed phase one of the project between 2012 and 2013 and has been working to secure funding from the Texas Water Development Board for phase two since then.
“We’ve been working diligently to apply for grants so it doesn’t impact any of our citizens and also so we don’t have to increase taxes,” Terrazas said. “So that’s why we applied for several grants with the water development board, with FEMA, with TxDoT and other federal monies available to help us pay for some of these projects so it doesn’t impact our citizens.”
For the Northwest Colonias Project, the TWDB awarded Mission $8.5 million, which is 50% grant and 50% loan with “very, very low interest,” Terrazas said. The funding does not impact resident taxes in any way.
The assistant city manager explained that securing federal funding is a competitive process, which explains the time between phases one and two.
“In order to qualify with the Texas Water Development Board, you have to meet certain requirements. And we’re not the only city that applies for these grants and loans. Across the Valley and across the state, all these cities participate and submit applications for funding. So it’s up to the water development board,” Terrazas said. “They grade your application to see where you’re at, to see what your capacities are and also the economic distress of the area. So they do all those studies themselves to make sure that we qualify for the funding. When it’s federal monies, there’s a lot of red tape.”
With the funding secured, the city moves on to the planning, acquisition and design portion.
Mission entered into a contract with civil engineering firm Melden and Hunt for $680,000 to begin the process, which will take about two years. Once the city acquires all the right-of-ways and completes the design, construction on the sewer line will take about 18 months.
Although it has taken about a decade to reach this point, Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza said the Northwest Colonias Project is one she has kept an eye on throughout the years.
“I think it’s a great project and it’s much needed,” the mayor said. “Good things happen to people that wait and here we are.”