PALMVIEW — With construction of the Palmview Wastewater Project already under way, and concerns over contractors while possible delays persist, one thing that hasn’t been addressed at length is how much the service will cost the residents.
Initial estimates provided by the Agua Special Utility District list the monthly cost for water and sewer at $77 a month with the likelihood of the finalized cost being higher.
In comparison, Sullivan City residents, who also receive water and sewer services from Agua SUD, pay about $56 a month for 7,000 gallons of usage. Residents of Mission pay about $36, McAllen residents pay about $38, and Edinburg residents pay about $40.95. All estimates calculate about 7,000 gallons of usage.
With the project still under construction, Agua SUD Executive Director Oscar Cancino said the rates had not been finalized and said a lot of it depended on the amount of connections.
“The thing is when the project was initiated, it included a certain amount of connections and that’s how it was approved and funded and there’s some areas, for example residential, that were not included that now have to be part of that,” Cancino said.
Connecting those residences that were not part of the initial plan will naturally raise the cost of the project. Cancino said the Water Development Board would only help cover the partial cost for those additional connections and the rest would have to be covered by Agua SUD.
Initial plans were for about 1,700 connections. How many more will be added to that is still unknown.
“As we develop the project it’s not until we actually get out there, evaluate the area that we’ll know exactly how many new homes we’re going to have to connect in addition to what already had been planned,” Cancino said.
As the installation of sewer lines has gotten under way, Cancino said they have received pushback from residents who would rather remain with septic instead of paying to be hooked up to the new service.
Unfortunately, residents don’t have a choice in the matter.
“The residents of Palmview will not have an option to not sign up for the sewer service,” Agua SUD Attorney Matthew Beatty informed the board of directors during a meeting Thursday.
“There are going to be some people that refuse it, that don’t want to do it, there’s going to be people that say I can’t afford the connection,” Beatty said. “There’s ways, especially through the EDAP process, for financial assistance in getting those things done but at the end of the day there’s not an option to stay on septic because it’s not in the best interest of the entire community.”
The Economically Distressed Areas Program, or EDAP, from the Texas Water Development Board is meant to provide financial assistance to economically disadvantaged areas for water and sewer services and has provided much of the funding for the Palmview Project.
However, part of it is funded by a loan from the Water Development Board.
“That’s something that we have to repay and that’s structured back into all our financing which ends up having to be calculated into the water rate,” Cancino said.
“What we are trying to do though, working in partnership with the Water Development Board, is trying to identify monies that we can use to offset any additional potential costs that we may have with the project.”