Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Mercedes colonias approved for $3.3 million in water and sewer improvements

AUSTIN, TX - State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. announced today that the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved $3.3 million in funds from the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) for the City of Mercedes to complete water and sewer improvements in colonias.

The fact that more and more Texas residents are beginning to have running water and safe sewage disposal is reason to celebrate, said Sen. Lucio. I commend all the entities who have worked so hard to see fruition of this great effort. However, there is great work ahead of us to ensure that every colonia in Texas has indoor plumbing and adequate waste water hookups.

The infrastructure is being built mainly through funding from EDAP, a program created by the Texas Legislature in 1989 in response to the plight of Texas residents living without adequate water and sewer services, added Sen. Lucio, who made water and wastewater connections a main focus through his 1999 Colonia Omnibus Bill. The legislation also created an Ombudsmans Office for colonias to assist with these and other improvement projects.

Mercedes is one of seven towns identified as appropriate candidates by the Secretary of State (SOS) in the Texas Plan, a 1999 initiative, to receive funds for hook-ups from the North American Development Bank. The other communities selected to receive water and wastewater hookups are Primera, Combes, San Benito, San Juan, Donna and Del Rio. The project was certified for funding by the NADBank through a $9 million grant. These communities were selected because they were already in the process of upgrading the required infrastructure, i.e., main water lines, treatment plants, and other necessary developments.

The Mercedes water project will provide first-time service to 53 households (238 residents) who cannot afford the cost of installation in three colonias located outside the city limits. The wastewater project will provide first time sewer service to 752 customers (3,885 residents).

Sen. Lucio also said he is awaiting a report on the status of water and sewer availability for colonias, as well as an assessment of the remaining water improvement needs that will be released by TWDB later this month. We want our communities to make use of every available fund and to benefit from more sanitary conditions that most of us take for granted, he stated.

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