$19 million in funding to be used to cleanup Donna reservoir

Local News

DONNA, Texas – Since 1993 there has been a known contamination of the Donna reservoir and canal system. After years of joined efforts by federal, state and local agencies a plan to clean it all up is underway.

State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. along with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Bobby Janecke formally announcing a $19 million Superfund cleanup of the reservoir and canal system. Lucio says 4 years ago members from ARISE and other community organizations approached him to ask for help after growing frustration over contamination of the reservoir.

“How toxic fish threatened the public health of our Rio Grande Valley residents at the time. There were no warning signs posted cautioning people of the public health risk associated with the fish. To say that we were shocked was an understatement.” said Senator Lucio.

Officials have found the reservoir to have elevated levels of Polychlorinated biphenyls or pcbs in the sediments and fish. Funds for the cleanup are coming from a 50/50 match with TCEQ and the EPA. EPA officials have begun the prep phase for the cleanup.

“Preparation is underway to begin the dredging this month. Then the siphon which has been determined to be the primary source of contamination will be completely replaced.” said Commissioner Janecke.

Removing sediments and fish will also have to take place which will continue for several months. Officials also say they want the public to know fish from the reservoir and canal system are not to be eaten or sold.

“The people eating the fish, the contamination, it never goes away. If they eat the fish continuously they can develop a lot of diseases, such as cancer.” said Ramona Casas, ARISE member.

Eva Caranza says she joined the fight to educate the community and encourages officials to be more involved and follow through with the project.

“I feel very happy because it was a process of several years of work with the government agencies. TCEQ, EPA and other local agencies to achieve and create this plan for the cleanup of the lake.” said Caranza.

Senator Lucio says he will use his senate chairmanship to help oversee the cleanup process and will require TCEQ to provide progress reports.

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