Funds will increase access to clean drinking water and waste water treatment for communities along the southern border
LAREDO, TX—Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and the City of Laredo announced $5,863,200 in federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP) that will assist the border region with a number of water infrastructure projects. Specifically, this funding will be used to cover a number of major water infrastructure projects, including two affecting the 28th District, in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Palmview, Texas. These projects will benefit thousands of local residents throughout Laredo and Nuevo Laredo by decreasing waste water discharge into the Rio Grande River and enhancing wastewater collection and treatment.
BWIP is administered by the North American Development Bank (NADB) for EPA Region 6, covering the states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Cuellar has made it a top priority to help secure funding for the Border Water Infrastructure Program, which funds NADB projects.
North American Development Bank
NADB provides financing, as well as technical and other assistance, to support the development and implementation of infrastructure projects that help preserve, protect, and enhance the environment of the border region in order to advance the well-being of the people of the United States and Mexico. In the 28th district, funding provided through NADB promotes a variety of projects related to environmental infrastructure, water conservation, energy efficiency, and improved environmental quality. Since its creation in 1994, the NADBank has financed $2.59 billion in 220 projects through loans and grants.
NADB Projects in the 28th District
The Congressman secured $5.8 million total – $3,863,469 for the Project Development Assistance Program (PDAP), which funds project development and design; and $2,179,731 for the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which funds project implementation. Two projects in the Congressman’s 28th Congressional District have been selected by the EPA to receive PDAP funding.
One of these projects, in Tamaulipas, will help reduce untreated wastewater discharges into the Rio Grande River from the Nuevo Laredo Wastewater Treatment Plant due to surface discharges in the sewer collection system, benefitting approximately 48,000 local residents in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. An additional project, in Palmview, provide enhanced centralized wastewater collection and treatment.
Currently, water in the Rio Grande is being exposed to untreated wastewater due to surface discharges in the sewer collection system and the absence of treatment. The existing collection system has exceeded its useful life and presents leaks and ruptures in six sub-collectors, which causes surface discharges into the El Coyote stream, which discharges into the Rio Grande River.
The Tamaulipas project consists of the rehabilitation of the wastewater collection system, eliminating direct discharges to the stream El Coyote, a tributary of the Rio Grande river. This project will help eliminate these discharges and will benefit approximately 48,000 residents.
AGUA- Special Utility District (SUD)’s Palmview Sewer Project
Currently, residents in the Palmview area do not have access to centralized wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure. Only on-site wastewater disposal systems, such as septic tanks or other types of on-site systems are available. Due to population density and soil conditions, these systems do not operate properly and are not in compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requirements. These conditions are further exacerbated during flooding events, when the risk for human contact with raw sewage increases and run-off into nearby drainage canals threaten the quality of water used for agriculture.
The Palmview Sewer Project consists of the installation of 1,752 wastewater hook-ups along and will benefit approximately 7,000 local residents.
Congressman Cuellar’s Legislative Efforts
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Cuellar has worked to secure funding for the Border Water Infrastructure Program, which funds NADB projects. Since fiscal year 2016, the Congressman has helped secure $40 million in funding for projects in his district, increasing clean drinking a water, and making necessary improvements to water infrastructure. In early 2017, he introduced the North American Development Bank Improvement and General Capital Increase Authorization Act, which would authorize funds appropriated to the bank in 2016 and streamline the bank’s project approval process.
During his time in the Texas State Legislature, Congressman Cuellar helped secure funding from the State of Texas for the Nuevo Laredo waste water treatment plant to improve the quality of sewage discharged into the Rio Grande. For this project, the U.S. Federal share was 45 percent, the Mexican share 50 percent, and Texas’ share 5 percent.
“The North American Development Bank has been a fantastic investment for American taxpayers, and provides essential services on our southern border,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Clean drinking water, sewage and waste treatment are the kinds of basic projects we can’t afford to under-fund. They don’t just keep our communities clean – they keep us safe from disease. I want to thank Laredo Mayor Saenz, the City of Laredo and Mayor of Nuevo Laredo Enrique Rivas for their commitment to the well-being of our communities. I also want to thank the representatives from NADB and the Rio Grande International Study Center for their leadership on this project.”