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Smart Growth

Making a Visible Difference in Communities: Texas

Making a Visible Difference in Communities Home


Colonias & Unincorporated Communities in Texas

In Texas, there are 555 colonias without adequate road paving, drainage or solid waste disposal. An additional 337 lack access to potable water, adequate wastewater disposal, or are unplatted. This equals to 153,842 people experiencing infrastructure challenges that could lead to serious environmental health risks. EPA is working side by side with state, federal, and local governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in creating strategic/implementation plans to address drinking water and wastewater issues, flood-related septic tank challenges, emergency preparedness, and Superfund outreach and public engagement challenges. Current activities include:

Cyndie Park II, TX

This neighborhood in Nueces County, Texas, has approximately 50 residents, all of whom rely on private wells for their drinking water. Water from these wells exceeds the national standard for arsenic. EPA is working with the community and the state to remove arsenic from the wells and provide the residents of Cyndie Park II and surrounding neighborhoods with a long-term source of safe drinking water.

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Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) Colonias – Including Alamo and Donna

EPA is working with community leaders representing 14 colonias; NGOs; and local, state and federal partners to address:

  • a malfunctioning wastewater facility
  • the cleanup, enforcement and public awareness needs related to the Donna Canal Superfund site
  • designing an enhanced strategy to better prepare colonia residents for manmade or natural disasters
  • a septic tank initiative

Action plans have been created and are being implemented. The work of this group gets media attention through the outreach work of community and youth volunteers.

The North Alamo Water Supply Corporation provides drinking water to an area located just northwest of the City of Donna in Hidalgo County, Texas. Residents in the identified colonias of:

EPA and community leaders tackling environmental challenges along the U.S. – Mexico BorderEPA and community leaders tackling environmental challenges along the U.S. – Mexico Border.

  • Alberta Acres
  • El Charro #2
  • Isaac’s Subdivision
  • L.J. #1
  • Muniz Subdivision
  • Tower Road Estates

currently face significant health risks due to overflowing and non-functioning septic tanks during times of wet weather and flooding exacerbated by high water tables. EPA and its partners are working with the North Alamo Water Supply Corporation to develop a sanitary sewer system that:

  • assesses the problem
  • identifies priority areas
  • implements a training program and builds a collaboration of assistance providers to help economically stressed residents

The program will be piloted in one county and replicated in other counties with heavy septic tank use. The work plan is being developed, and state and county officials have provided input.

EPA and its partners are also working with the North Alamo Water Supply Corporation to develop a sanitary sewer system. When completed, the project will result in an estimated 471 new domestic sewer connections benefiting a population of 1,680 residents.

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Sand Branch - Dallas County

EPA is currently facilitating conversation between

  • Dallas County
  • USDA
  • FEMA
  • COE
  • TCEQ
  • community leaders

to explore drinking water and wastewater options for an unincorporated community with about 40 residents that sits in a floodplain. EPA has examined past failed efforts, brought additional players to the table, and will lead discussions to come up with a joint agreement on what is and what is not going to be possible because of the community’s location.

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