Heavy rains and flooding, like those we experienced recently, can play havoc with onsite septic tanks or draining fields, especially with systems that do not meet county or state standards, said Steven P. Sanchez, general manager for North Alamo Water Supply Corp., based in Edinburg.

Among the hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods located outside of municipalities, few are connected to city water or sewage disposal.

“A lack of utility services has been tied to public health and safety,” Sanchez said.

North Alamo Water Supply Corp. is there to fill the gap. Most recently, the water utility dedicated it newest wastewater treatment plant, located northwest of Donna near North Donna High School. Among those attending the ribbon cutting and reception, were employees, board members, and representatives from local, county and federal agencies.

For the past 50 years, North Alamo Water has worked diligently to provide safe drinking water and wastewater treatment to homes, farms and businesses in eastern Hidalgo, Willacy and northwestern Cameron counties. North Alamo Water is the largest rural water supplier in Texas. Its business office is located in Edinburg, and its water and wastewater treatment plants are scattered throughout its 972 square mile service area.

At the dedication ceremony held on the grounds of the wastewater treatment plant, the corporation’s contributions to the economic growth and quality of life were mentioned by staff members representing public officials: Cassandra Meade with the office of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz; Anissa Guajardo for Congressman Filemon Vela Jr.; and Nuriddin Kalam for Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.

Engineer Ivan Garcia with Rio Delta Engineering, who oversaw the construction project, said the construction of the wastewater treatment plant is unique in how so many different agencies came together to make the project a reality. Local, state and federal entities all worked together, as did several sources of funding: Texas Water Development Board, Hidalgo County Urban County, and Border Environment Cooperation Commission/North American Development Bank.

“As the Valley grows, there is now and will continue to be a need for wastewater service and this type of funding is a must,” said North Alamo Water board president Steve Krenek.

Sanchez pointed out that 400 homes, and nearly 1,600 residents are now connected to sewer services for the first time. Many of the homes previously used septic tanks or draining fields, which were inadequate for the size lot and overflowed during times of heavy rainfall as the Rio Grande Valley saw recently.

The total project cost of $11.78 million was funded mainly through grants. Trying to keep up with the growth, the corporation has submitted an application with the Texas Water Development Board for a similar project to be built north of Weslaco at Mile 12 north, and west of FM 1015.