Grant to help bring utilities to Willacy County colonias

Sebastian, Lasara, Tamezville tapped for service

RAYMONDVILLE — For decades, Willacy County leaders have struggled to bring public services to boost colonia residents’ health in this sprawling farming region.

Now, the state Department of Agriculture is giving the county $551,800 to help bring sewer service to Lasara and Tamezville along with water service to Sebastian.

The money tapped from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development comes after county officials applied for a grant under the 2020 Colonia Fund aimed at bringing first-time public utilities to the state’s colonias.

As part of the grant program, the county is funding $50,000.

Officials called the project critical to residents’ health.

“Connecting to a public sewer system mitigates against the health and sanitation hazards posed by failing septic systems,” a press release states. “Gaining access to a reliable source of potable water is crucial to the health and well-being of residents.”

Long struggle

For years, Willacy County commissioners have worked to bring sewer services to Lasara and Tamezville, Commissioner Eliberto Guerra stated.

“A couple of years back, the state designated this area as an actual colonia (so) we’ve been trying to get sewer for the past seven years,” Guerra, who oversees the communities, stated. “I am very happy about that and it’s a big improvement for that community.”

The grant will fund “life-changing” projects, Commissioner Eduardo Gonzales stated.

The Colonia Fund “has been a great asset for people who don’t have first-time water and sewer,” Gonzales, who oversees the Sebastian area, stated. “It’s life-changing.”

In this financially strapped farming region, commissioners are counting on grants to boost their budget “since we have a lot of need,” County Judge Aurelio Guerra stated.

“I am glad we finally got selected for these two projects having to do with water and sewer improvements,” he stated. “I’m sure the communities are happy to have these projects funded.”

The project

As part of the project, Fulcrum Consulting Services will oversee design and construction.

To help bring public services to the three colonias, the county is working with the North Alamo Water Supply Corp. and the Sebastian Municipal Utilities District.

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