MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hidalgo County and Mercedes officials gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Anaquitas drainage project intended to address drainage and flooding issues in Mercedes.

“This started in 2018, this project did, and now you’re seeing the fruition of those meetings in 2018,” said the city of Mercedes mayor, Oscar Montoya.

Montoya said with the city being at high risk for flooding, the project will help lessen the potential for flooding.

“This is going to allow us to move water that impacts the north side of the city. As a matter of fact, our sewage plant is within the mile 8 area that gets heavily impacted by this Anaquitas drain and that gets flooded every year that we have significant rainfall,” he said.

David Fuentes, the Hidalgo County commissioner for precinct 1, said after severe flooding in 2018, the county recognized the issues and also experienced the damage.

“There was a tremendous amount of flooding that happened in the city of Mercedes along with other communities. It was really important for us to try to identify the most impactful projects that we can create that would be significant to our residences, the people that lost their homes or had to redo their homes from the inside out,” said Fuentes.

He explained that five months after the flooding, the city put out a bond election where voters approved raising $188 million dollars for the project.

“We’re basically improving the existing structure that’s in place right now. Currently, there are two five by five boxes and we’re adding twin ten by eight boxes. So, we are tripling the capacity here at the outfall with this phase,” said Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1’s general manager, Raul Sesin.

The officials said this is one of several projects underway across the county.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in about six months.