Elsa’s economic growth and quality of life to improve through $1.3 million state loan


June 9, 2014 at 8:11am

A $1.3 million state loan that was recently approved will provide the City of Elsa with an additional source of water for its citizens, an action that will continue improving the economic development and quality of life of the community, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Elsa Mayor Al Pérez have announced.

The financial assistance, awarded in Austin on Thursday, May 15, by the Texas Water Development Board, will pay for the planning, design, and construction costs for an emergency raw water supply line to the city’s water treatment plant.

The money, drawn from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, was requested to allow the city to build an emergency interconnect with the Engleman Irrigation District, according to an executive summary provided by the Texas Water Development Board.

The Engleman Irrigation District, founded in the late 1920s and headquartered in Elsa, serves agricultural interests in a 7,100-acre region. It’s board of directors, which are elected by voters in the region they serve, includes Jesús Flores, president; Orlando Anzaldúa, III, vice-president; Bernard Roland, secretary; Andy Scott, member; and Xavier García, member and general manager. Herminia Hinojosa, who has been on its staff for more than 30 years, serves as bookkeeper and secretary.

Elsa will install 12,900 lineal feet of 24-inch PVC pipe from an existing canal to the city's water treatment plant.

The state support, which will be repaid over a 20-year period with a very low interest rate, is part of Elsa’s strategies to ensure and protect the availability of water for business and residential consumers, Canales said.

“Elsa, like all the other communities in my House District 40, are part of an economic boom that is going on in deep South Texas, and making sure we have reliable sources of water is a key part of our vision of growth and prosperity for our region,” said Canales. “The interest rate for this loan of 2.15 percent also is a big benefit to Elsa. Compared with what a loan like this would cost from private investors, Elsa could save almost $167,000 over the life of the loan because they came to the Texas Water Development Board for funding.”

“Thanks to the Texas Water Development Board, we have been able to invest in future supplies of water without having to burden Elsa taxpayers,” said Pérez, whose work on the loan application with that agency’s key staff and board members, including his attendance at the May 17 meeting in Austin, paid off.

“Water is life and is the lifeblood of each of our Valley cities,” the mayor emphasized. ”The city of Elsa is proactively working to ensure that Elsa will have water for your children, your grandchildren, and for generations to come.”

Canales and Pérez also expressed their appreciation to the leadership of the Engelman Irrigation District and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for their help and guidance.

“This is another example of local and state governments coming together for the benefit of all its constituents,” said Canales. “Carlos Rubenstein, the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, and fellow board members Bech Bruun and Kathleen Jackson extended great courtesies to Mayor Pérez when he went before them for this very important loan. The same can be said for the leadership of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and of course, to our great partners in economic development at the Engleman Irrigation District.”

Pérez echoed Canales’ sentiments, adding, “What is good for Elsa is good for Hidalgo County, the Rio Grande Valley, and Texas.”

The City of Elsa's sources of raw water supply needed to be improved due to the continued drought, according to the Texas Water Development Board staff analysis presented to the leadership of that state agency.

Elsa is currently listed on Texas Commission on Environment Quality’s list of public water systems that are limiting water use to avoid shortages as having fewer than 180 days of water, which includes other Texas and Valley cities, such as Raymondville and Lyford.

This list is used by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – a state agency – to prioritize systems in most need of technical assistance in identifying ways systems can use to increase and extend supplies.

Elsa’s decision to increase its sources of water was prompted by a February 8, 2013 notification by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and by the Hidalgo and Cameron Counties Irrigation District No. 9.

Those public entities cautioned about the possibility that District 9 may run out of irrigation water allocation. Should this occur, District 9 will be unable to deliver municipal water to the city. Thus, Elsa needed to secure a second source of raw water.

Elsa also has an emergency interconnection with North Alamo Water Supply Corporation. If water were available, North Alamo Supply Corporation could provide 25 pounds per square inch of water pressure to the city through the interconnect.

In recommending approval of the $1.3 million loan, Texas Water Development Board confirmed that the city’s repayment capacity is sufficient. Among the economic highlights for the community, the TWDB reported noted:

  • Sales tax collections have increased annually for the past five years;
  • The city’s total debt per capita of $152.34 is considered low;
  • The assessed valuation of taxable properties increased 16%, over the past five years;
  • Edcouch Elsa Independent School District is the largest employer and revenue producer for the water and wastewater system;
  • Increasing growth in population, assessed valuations, and operating revenues support staff’s recommendation; and
  • These trends are expected to continue with the current economic development projects under construction.

According to the House Research Organization, which is the research arm of the Texas House of Representatives, irrigation districts are public bodies with board of directors whose members are elected by citizens, are supervised by the Texas Water Development Board. They are limited purpose districts primarily established to deliver untreated water for irrigation to provide for the drainage of land. They are an essential part of the communities they serve. These districts are able to deliver water to crops, parks, golf courses, industrial operations, or treatment facilities.

The Texas Water Development Board is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning and preparing the State Water Plan for the development of the state’s water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.

Through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the TWDB will make low-interest loans for financing public drinking water systems that facilitate compliance with primary and secondary drinking water regulations or otherwise significantly further the health protection objectives of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as amended in 1996.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the environmental agency for the state. It has approximately 2,767 employees, 16 regional offices, and a $379 million operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year (including both baseline and contingency appropriations).

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is directed by the Texas Legislature to protect the state's public health and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. Its goals are clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste.

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