The North American Development Bank (NADB) signed a $6.35 million grant for the Texas Plan project Wednesday, which will benefit six communities - Combes, Mercedes, Primera, San Benito, San Juan and Del Rio - during the U.S.-Mexico Border Summit at The University of Texas-Pan American.
With this funding, new water and wastewater hookups will provide first-time service for 5,107 households. Overall, 18,615 residents within these six communities will be assisted.
Attending the ceremonial signing were Texas Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa.
"This is a great opportunity for a lot of Texans and generations to come. If the border of Texas is healthy and successful, the entire state of Texas is healthy and successful," Perry said. "Reliable roads means school buses, emergency vehicles and the postal service will be able to access colonia residents because roads will be paved. Today's grant program is going to make a difference in people lives. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Hinojosa was pleased that the city he grew up in, Mercedes, was among the benficiaries.
"The Texas Plan project will fund the creation of over 2,000 wastewater connections around South Texas, including my own hometown of Mercedes and San Juan," Hinojosa said. "That means that over 18,000 residents will for the first time have access to clean water and sanitation. These services are vital if we are to improve the health and living conditions for everyone in this region."
Also in attendance at the news conference were colonia resident and advocate Elida Bocanegra, Combes City Mayor Silvestre Garcia, Del Rio City Manager Raphael Castillo, Mercedes Mayor Miguel Castillo, Jr., Primera Mayor Jose J. Ramirez, San Benito Mayor Ricardo Morado, San Juan Mayor Roberto F. Loredo, NADBank Managing Director Raul Rodriguez and NADBank Deputy Managing Director Jorge C. Garces.
Bocanegra, a longtime advocate for better living conditions in colonias and a colonia resident herself, praised all those who made the Texas Plan project possible.
"In the name of all the colonia residents involved, I want to say thank you," Bocanegra said. "This project is going to eliminate a lot of disease and low-level land. From the bottom of our hearts, I thank all of you for what you have done."
The $6.35 million dollar grant was made possible through NADBank's EPA-funded Border Environment Infrastructure Fund.