We all depend on drainage. Only when our
neighborhoods are safe from rain and flooding
can our communities thrive.
Too often, though, inequalities in the current
drainage system in Hidalgo County, Texas,
result in flooding that causes damage to homes,
roads and public health. Colonias,
unincorporated neighborhoods outside the city
limits, are hit hardest by these inequalities.
When heavy rains hit, water accumulates in
these neighborhoods because the water has
nowhere to go. The standing water damages roads and homes and traps residents in their neighborhoods; flooded septic tanks cause contaminated water to flow to other parts of the region and pollute groundwater along the way; disease-carrying mosquitoes thrive in the pooled water.
Three organizations – A Resource In Serving Equality (ARISE), La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS) – have launched a campaign to give county residents a voice in county drainage decisions and find practical solutions to end the flooding and move toward a drainage system that works for all of us.
We need a drainage system that works for all Hidalgo County residents.
We call on Hidalgo County to:
– Allow county residents, especially colonia residents, to have a voice in county drainage decisions through a community advisory committee,
– Work to equitably distribute funding toward the colonias with the worst flooding, and,
– Set standards through the Model Subdivision Rules that protect future neighborhoods from 25-year rain/flooding events.
Want to help create a drainage system that works for everyone?
Sign a petition to Hidalgo County:
Write to your Hidalgo County Commissioner:
Get in touch using the contact form and connect with us on Facebook:
Follow the campaign in the news:
Telemundo-40 (en Español):
Demandan mejoras a sistema de drenaje (El Mañana de Reynosa)
Since the public launch of our collaborative campaign in January 2017, community members have been educating themselves and their neighbors on drainage inequality in the Rio Grande Valley. Residents from colonias with flooding problems, such as Alberta Meadows, El Charro #2, El Obispado and El Maiz, have studied the LUCHA 2.0 drainage curriculum on the water cycle and water management, strategies for low-impact development, local flooding case studies and more.
Leaders at ARISE and LUPE have conducted more than 15 trainings with residents throughout Hidalgo County and in the city of Brownsville. Maria, an ARISE member and El Maiz resident, demonstrated the benefits of empowering people with the knowledge into more effectively advocate with her testimony at the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court blow. Campaign leaders have consistently testified before the commissioners and at Hidalgo County Drainage District meetings every month.
ARISE and LUPE leaders like Maria will continue to educate and push for an equitable drainage system that includes colonia residents in the decision-making process. If you know a colonia or neighborhood in Hidalgo County that suffers flooding problems, or would like to learn more about advocating for drainage improvements, join the campaign!
Upgrades to Hidalgo MSRs Means Safer Communities (Rio Grande Guardian)
The data is clear: Hidalgo County's drainage system does not work for everyone.
In 2015, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) completed a survey of drainage in 403 colonias throughout Hidalgo County. More than half of the colonias surveyed, 243, were in need of drainage maintenance to properly dispose of storm water.
In 158 surveyed colonias in Hidalgo County, shown in red on the map at left, standing water lingered for at least three days after a rain event – the amount of time it takes disease-carrying mosquitoes to breed.
(Click on the map to zoom in.)
As the maps above demonstrate, many colonias in Hidalgo County are located in 100-year floodplains (left). Colonias are often home to high numbers of non-native born people (center), and are not as well-serviced by Hidalgo County Drainage District (HCDD) infrastructure as cities where more residents are native born (right). (Click on the maps to zoom in.)
The result is an unequal drainage system that hits colonia residents the hardest. Children have to put plastic bags on their shoes to walk to the bus stop; residents have to create bridges to get from their doorstep to their car. Low income families have to invest what little money they have into repairing their homes in the face of continuous flooding.
We should all be able to live with dignity in thriving communities. That shouldn’t depend on where you're from or how much money you make. When everyone can depend on our drainage system, we all benefit.