El Paso County, Texas – A water distribution system for the Hillcrest subdivision in El Paso County, Texas, kicked off construction during a groundbreaking ceremony that took place this morning. This project will provide first-time access to safe and reliable drinking water service for 107 homes in this unincorporated area located approximately 17 miles northeast of downtown El Paso.
With a total cost of US$3.28 million, the project is being partially financed with a US$1.6 million grant provided through the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by the North American Development Bank (NADBank) and a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA).
Today’s ceremony was presided over Representative Veronica Escobar (TX-16), the Hon. Ricardo A. Samaniego, County Judge; the Hon. Carlos Leon, County Commissioner-Precinct One; Dr. Earthea Nance, EPA Region 6 Administrator, Dr. Calixto Mateos Hanel, NADBank Managing Director; Lillian Solerno, USDA Rural Development State Director in Texas, along with representatives from the El Paso County Administration Office.
“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony was both a wonderful celebration and a stark reminder,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “Too many communities still do not have access to safe and reliable drinking water. I’m proud of the work my team and I are doing for colonias at the federal level, including through the recent introduction of my legislation creating an Office of Colonia Affairs, but there’s still much work to do. I am thrilled yet another community will have the necessary infrastructure for drinking water, and I know we will see similar ceremonies in other communities soon.”
The new drinking water system includes the construction of approximately 24,100 linear feet of PVC waterlines, 17 fire hydrants and 107 service connections. Upon completion, the project is expected to eliminate the risks of contamination and waterborne diseases associated with hauling water and the use of on-site storage tanks.
“This project will transform the Hillcrest community by bringing safe drinking water directly to homes for the first time, giving families access to this essential resource that many of us take for granted,” said Dr. Nance. “As the climate crisis makes water resources scarcer and less reliable, families in vulnerable areas like Hillcrest bear direct impacts to their health and wellbeing.”
“This project will prevent the health risks associated with the improper handling of water tanks and the use of trucked water that does not meet quality standards for human consumption,” explained Dr. Mateos Hanel during the ceremony. He added that “collaboration among NADBank, EPA and USDA is vital to making basic infrastructure accessible, not only to Hillcrest, but to all residents in the border region.”
“We know how important safe reliable drinking water is to this community. We are proud to use USDA funds for the Hillcrest project and applaud this community and all involved,” said Lillian Salerno State Director USDA Rural Development.
The new system will connect to the existing El Paso Water (EPW) distribution system, which will supply the water and provide all operation and maintenance services. To enhance the benefits of the project, planning and design included using the existing waterline along Zaragoza Road as a transmission line for current and future EPW distribution services.
“No one should have a different quality of life because of where they live,” said El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. “This is one of our fundamental pillars of our duty as a County; to ensure that no family should have to provide or go without proper drinking water systems. Every family has the right to receive clean drinking water from their local governments. The stress and worry of not having this fundamental necessity can have detrimental effects on the mental health of the community as a whole. That’s why we are elated to see that more than one hundred homes will receive that service in the near future.”
NADBank is a financial institution established and capitalized in equal parts by the United States and Mexico for the purpose of financing environmental infrastructure projects along their common border. As a pioneer institution in its field, the Bank is working to develop environmentally and financially sustainable projects with broad community support in a framework of close cooperation and coordination between Mexico and the United States.