Montana Vista project celebrated

Montana Vista project celebrated
Posted on 03/08/2019
(From left) EPWater's Hector Gonzalez, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Martina Silva, Rep. Mary Gonzalez

Martina Silva can’t help but get emotional when she thinks about how long her community has waited for wastewater service.

“Sixteen years,” the 66-year-old Montana Vista resident said, as her voice cracked. “We had to collect 500 signatures in 2003 to get this process started. We got 1,070.”

Through the efforts of Montana Vista residents like Silva, along with the advocacy of local and state elected officials, El Paso Water has received funding assistance of a $12.9 million from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) that includes a grant of $11.4 million and a low-interest loan for the balance. The funding came from the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) and will enable the utility to proceed with phase one of a wastewater construction project, providing service to over 800 homes south of Montana Boulevard.

Although Montana Vista has had water service for decades, residents have had to use septic tanks or resort to inadequate drainage systems.

“Septic tanks can be costly because they need regular maintenance and frequent repairs,” said Irazema Rojas, EPWater Capital Improvement Program Manager. “Aging and/or unmaintained systems often require expensive replacement and can pose a health risk to the surrounding area.”

Community partnerships

According to a 2015 Rural Community Assistance Partnership Report, of the 322 colonias in El Paso County, 93.5 percent have drinking water service. However, only 72.5 percent of those have wastewater service. The Montana Vista wastewater project will help close that gap.

Funding has enabled EPWater to proceed with Phase 1 of the Montana Vista project.“El Paso Water is committed to working with partners to identify solutions to underserved areas in El Paso County that are looking for water or wastewater services,” said Rene Leon, EPWater Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator. “EPWater thanks our local and state representatives, and especially Rep. Mary E. González and Sen. Jose Rodriguez, who recognized the community need and have dedicated a significant amount of time and attention to advocate for solutions.”

It is estimated that an additional $23 million will be needed to complete phases two and three of the project, giving wastewater service to the majority of Montana Vista residents. EPWater is actively pursuing state and federal funding opportunities to complete those phases.

“When I first was elected to this office, we were told this project would never get done,” Rep. González said. “But here we are. We have the funding to start phase one. And we’re going to keep working to find funding for all the phases.”

Thankful community

The wastewater project has been in the works for years and achieved a major milestone in 2016 when El Paso received TWDB grant funding of $2.8 million through the EDAP program for design of the project.

The residents who have lived in Montana Vista for decades have witnessed the entire process unfold. Even though Silva will not receive wastewater service in the first phase, she is still thankful to EPWater, Rep. Gonzalez and Sen. Rodriguez.

“I thank God and I’m super proud,” Silva said. “Texas is a huge state. But little ’ol Montana Vista got a small piece of the pie. And it won’t be just 1,070 petitioners who will reap the benefit. The entire community will.”

EPWater estimates that construction will begin later this year. For updates on this project, click here to subscribe to the Montana Vista Wastewater Project e-mail newsletter.

The following maps are available to view in greater detail.

 Click here to view an overview with all phases

 Click here to view Phase One

 Click here to view Phase Two

Click here to view Phase Three

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