$10 million grant billed as ‘largest’ in Starr County to address water

Federal and local officials gathered in Rio Grande City on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, for the ceremonial presentation of a $10 million USDA grant for water in the region. (Courtesy photo)

A $10 million grant has been awarded to improve Rio Grande City’s water supply and treatment thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar was in Rio Grande City on Thursday to announce the $10,256,381 USDA grant he called “the largest” in the area. 

“It’s the largest grant that Starr County has gotten,” Cuellar said after the announcement. “We had announced one a couple of years ago for $10.1 million, so this is a little bigger from the previous one.” 

The grant will help colonias in Starr County by funding the construction and installation of various systems. 

“I’m excited about this because it’s going to help colonias in Starr County with water pressure and quality of water,” Cuellar said. 

More than 2,000 residents of colonias in Starr County Precinct 1, which is located between Roma and Rio Grande City, will see the effects from the grant. These colonias include Benjamin Perez, Flor del Rio, and La Esperanza. 

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera was pleased about the grant, which also happens to be the largest grant that the county has ever received. 

“It’s really a game changer because that area there is probably one of the areas that is the least developed economically,” Vera said. “We were lacking the infrastructure. This is a great step forward for getting our water supply that we need — the quality and the quantity of water that we need.” 

“You might have a little ranchette, you could have a little colonia, you know it’s part of the American dream,” Cuellar said. “But if you don’t have the right water pressure or the boosters that make sure that you have the pressure, then it makes a big difference. It’s important for them. It’s a quality of life issue.” 

The congressman said that with funding now available, the project will be completed by March 2025.