EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Flooding has been a problem in the Rio Grande Valley for decades. Now, the mayors of the four biggest cities in Hidalgo County want to try and fix it together.
McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, Mission Mayor Armando O’ Cano, and Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez held a joint press conference in Edinburg to announce their joint effort.
When it floods in the Rio Grande Valley, it starts in the upper Valley and moves East.
Meaning when the water is high in Mission, it will then be high in McAllen and every other city along the way.
“Once our waters are out, and the rest of the municipalities or the county drainage is not proper, guess what happens? We back up,” said Villalobos.
The purpose of the joint project is to get all the cities in Hidalgo County using the same standard for drainage systems so a backup won’t happen.
The group hammered home how important it was that all cities and the county drainage systems use the same drainage standards.
“The more unity there is, the quicker it will work. So, we want the other mayors — to make sure that the other 18 mayors that aren’t present, they need to be on board with us” said Molina. “And of course, I’m going to reiterate, we cannot do this without the county.”
The mayors say they have support from several Hidalgo County commissioners, which is critical because they say the county will be responsible for picking up half of the estimated costs.
Each city will have a different number of improvements, so the cost isn’t uniform for all 22 cities in Hidalgo County.
Mission mayor Armando O’ Cano said that Mission identified around 71 projects that would need to be worked on during their drainage project upgrade.
“The estimated cost for the city of Mission is $100 million. So, that gives you an idea. Multiply by 22, and that will give you an idea for how much it’s going to cost for the county,” said O’ Cano.
Replacing the drainage infrastructure for the entirety of Hidalgo County can’t happen overnight. There are miles of pipes that need to be replaced, as well as other improvements made to various drainage ditches that will bring the whole county into conformity.
With that in mind, the group couldn’t say exactly when the project would begin, but they were confident it would start within the next five years.
Having the initiative be taken by local mayors will hopefully help keep things on schedule.
“We remain in control; not other people remain in control where things get built out in 10 years. That’s why I’m aligned with these guys, these guys get stuff done,” said Hernandez.
In the meantime, they will turn their focus on getting smaller cities onboard with the plan while they wait for funding.