Colonia residents launch drainage campaign in Hidalgo County

Josué Ramírez, Texas Housers Rio Grande Valley director

Josué Ramírez, Texas Housers Rio Grande Valley director

Colonia leaders organized with La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and A Resource In Serving Equality (ARISE), and proudly supported by Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, have launched a public campaign to win drainage improvements in Hidalgo County. The improvements outlined at the kickoff event at the Hidalgo Commissioners Court in Edinburg (pictured above) aim to create a drainage system that works for everyone.

Everyone should all be able to live with dignity in thriving communities safe from rain and flooding. But too often, inequalities and problems with the current Hidalgo County drainage system result in chronic flooding, particularly in the unincorporated colonias outside cities, that causes damage to homes, roads and public health.

Our community needs a drainage system that works for all Hidalgo County residents. To get there, Hidalgo County must allow residents, especially colonia residents, to have a voice in drainage decisions. The campaign is the first step toward that goal.

You can learn more about the campaign, and about drainage inequalities in the Rio Grande Valley, at our new website ValleyDrainage.org.

(Video from LUPE’s Facebook page)

Residents have outlined practical steps that the Hidalgo County Drainage District and Commissioners Court can take to ensure county residents have a say in the drainage decisions that impact their lives, including re-establishing the Hidalgo County Drainage Advisory Committee to include colonia residents’ participation and input.

Another campaign goal is to include safeguards for flood prevention in future subdivisions in the unincorporated county through the Model Subdivision Rules that regulate platting. County residents are asking that the drainage standards for future development are strong enough to protect against a 25-year rain event, similar to the standard in Valley cities such as McAllen. This approach would help the county in the long run, reducing future costs to upgrade drainage infrastructure and making it easier for subdivisions to incorporate into cities when the time comes.

press-conference

Colonia residents spoke to the media at the campaign launch event.

Lastly, the grassroots campaign leaders seek the equitable distribution of drainage improvement funds. The colonias most in need of flood protection must be prioritized, specifically the areas identified by the Texas Water Development Board’s colonia drainage study. The comprehensive, first-of-its-kind drainage assessment identified and prioritized the colonias with structure and nuisance flooding and lacking prepared drainage mitigation plans or projects. These colonias should be the top priority for Hidalgo County Drainage District #1 and Hidalgo County’s funding and drainage infrastructure projects.

County residents whose homes continually flood are tired of paying into a drainage system that does not benefit them and puts their property and safety at risk. The campaign is another step in the right direction for the colonias of South Texas, and for residents of the unincorporated county who have been treated unequally for far too long. We urge the county commissioners and the Drainage District #1 director to listen to the drainage problems of colonia residents and the solutions they offer.

The public is invited to support the campaign by signing up for action alerts at www.lupenet.org/drainage.

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