Water woes persist for some Hidalgo County residents

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Agua Special Utility District’s office seen Friday, June 30, 2023, in Palmview. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

While the city of San Juan announced a boil water notice Friday for residents who are customers of the North Alamo Water Supply Corporation, it’s just the latest in water woes impacting two entities and multiple Hidalgo County communities where unrest and problems seem to grow.

There is currently no estimation yet on the number of affected residents, but the latest to be impacted reside in the San Juan area and are North Alamo Water Supply customers, who have been advised to boil their water prior to consumption.

“North of the expressway, all the residents of San Juan belong to North Alamo Water Supply,” Mayor Mario Garza said in a statement Friday. “It’s affecting residents from San Juan, but the ones from the north side of the expressway.”

Anyone with questions or concerns are encouraged to call the corporation at (956) 383-1618.

The corporation first issued the notice Wednesday and pointed to “mechanical issues at one of our facilities” that required a pressure reduction and led to outages, adding that high water demand led to these circumstances.

As a result, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the corporation to notify customers about the need to boil water before consumption or use. Customers affected reside in the vicinities of Alberta and Tower roads as well as Business 83 and Valley View, as well as heading west to Expressway 83.

“Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions,” the corporation’s notice read. “To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.”

The Agua Special Utility District, which primarily services the Western Hidalgo County area, has faced similar issues and also notified customers to boil water. This, too, was as a result of a TCEQ order prompted by “reduced distribution system pressure,” according to the Hidalgo County Department of Health and Human Services.

The problem has affected many residents as well as businesses. On Wednesday, the county confirmed the temporary closure of 17 restaurants in Peñitas as a result of the water problems.

The county did not identify the restaurants but did say they could reopen by following “specific health and safety guidelines…” that are standard during a boil water notice.

Agua SUD’s notice was issued to residents Monday and encouraged calling (956) 585-

2459 or visiting Agua SUD’s 3120 N. Abram Road office in Palmview.

Meanwhile, in Peñitas, where officials declared mandatory Stage 3 water conservation measures Wednesday, residents say there’s no water to conserve, because there’s nothing coming out of the taps.

“There’s more days (than not) where the water will go off like 10 times a day and by the night, it’s gone,” said Peñitas resident Kathy Quilantan.

Quilantan said her community, along Tom Gil Road and Mile 7 North, had been dealing with water outages and pressure issues for weeks before Agua SUD issued a boil water notice Monday.

By Friday, her home — and those of her neighbors — had been completely without water for days.

Gone were the infrequent hours where she could at least get a trickle from the tap.

Frustrated, she and about 20 other residents showed up to the Agua SUD offices in Palmview Friday morning to demand answers.

There, they met with Agua SUD General Manager Robert Salinas and several members of the district’s board of directors.

After two hours, the group got nowhere, she said.

They left without answers, without a timeline for when service will be restored, and with vague promises that the district was looking into long-term plans to shore up infrastructure, but no short term or immediate solutions.

Salinas did not answer a call seeking comment.

And a call made to the Agua SUD offices went unanswered.

“It’s been really frustrating because the water does not start,” Quilantan said.

With two adults and two children, plus pets, living in the home, Quilantan worries for her family’s safety, especially as the Rio Grande Valley experiences record heat during which people are advised to stay hydrated.

She has been forced to travel to her mother’s home — also within the Agua SUD service area — “to go get a bucket of water,” she said.

“Everything is piling up, and by the looks of it, it’s not gonna get any better soon,” Quilantan said.

Monitor staff writer Michael Rodriguez contributed to this report.