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Sen. Hinojosa announces $44 million state funding package awarded to City of Edinburg for vital improvements to city’s wastewater system - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED: Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, speaks about how his life has been positively affected by the city of Edinburg during the 90th Annual Installation and Awards Banquet, hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

Photograph by NAYELI ZENTENO


Sen. Hinojosa announces $44 million state funding package awarded to City of Edinburg for vital improvements to city’s wastewater system

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The Texas Water Development Board on Friday, November 18, 2022 approved $44 million in financial help to pay for vital improvements to the City of Edinburg’s wastewater system – funding that will not require a local property tax increase, Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, recently announced.

The Texas Water Development Board is the state’s water planning and water project financing agency.

Also important, financial assistance will allow the city to address existing sanitary sewer overflows and conduct an emergency preparedness plan.

The growth the City of Edinburg is experiencing make this project necessary. The funding approved by the Texas Water Development Board ensures that the city will continue to provide drinking water and wastewater services to all residents in the future,” said Hinojosa. “I want to thank Edinburg officials for their continued efforts in obtaining funding for this project.”

Edinburg is the fifth fastest-growing large city in the state and ranks in the top 20 in the country.

The current population of approximately 105,000 and continues to grow by an average of about seven people per day. As result, to accommodate the population growth and comply with state regulations, the project will include construction of a new plant on the north side of the city’s service area and make improvements to address capacity issues to the existing plant.

Urban areas need to have waste-water treatment facilities to clean the water that is used in their many homes and factories. The start of the process is with the drains and sewage outlets from individual houses and buildings, which take the waste-water down into sewage pipes, usually below ground. The water continues to flow through increasingly larger pipes until it reaches the treatment plant. At strategic points along the way, manholes lead into the pipes, so that they can be serviced when necessary. Ideally, waste-water facilities are located in low-lying areas and the force of gravity moves the water all the way; but when pipes need to go uphill, a lift station or grinder pump is used.

The Texas Water Development Board’s main responsibilities are threefold:

• Collecting and disseminating water-related data;

• Assisting with regional water supply and flood planning and preparing the state water plan and state flood plan; and

• Administering cost-effective financial programs for constructing water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.

The city will pledge revenue from the wastewater system to cover all existing and proposed debt.

According to the Texas Water Development Board:

The financial assistance will consist of $43,925,000 in financing and $75,000 in principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF);

By securing financial assistance through the CWSRF program, estimated that the city could save nearly $11 million over the life of the financing. Edinburg will not have to increase property taxes to pay for the financing;

The City of Edinburg currently provides drinking water and wastewater services to approximately 30,500 water connections and 25,300 wastewater connections; and

The proposed three-phase project will make improvements to Edinburg’s wastewater treatment plant to expand its capacity in anticipation of the growing population expected by 2030.

Mireya Loewe, Team Manager with the the Texas Water Development Board, provided the following highlights of the project request for consideration and action by the state government entity:

Action Requested

Approve by resolution a request from the City of Edinburg (Hidalgo County) $44,000,000 in financial assistance consisting of $43,925,000 in financing and $75,000 in principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for planning, acquisition, design, and construction of a wastewater system improvements project.


The City of Edinburg is the county seat of Hidalgo County and has a population of approximately 105,000. The City provides drinking water and wastewater services to approximately 30,500 water connections and 25,300 wastewater connections.

Project Needs and Description

The city’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) consists of four treatment trains with a combined permitted flow capacity of 12.3 million gallons per day (MGD). However, the plant can only operate within the permit parameters at a 9.3 MGD capacity.

Flows are anticipated to reach 9.3 MGD by 2023.

Title 30 of the Texas Administrative Code requires that planning for expansion of capacity start when the average daily flows reaches 75 percent of the permitted capacity for three consecutive months, and commence construction at 90 percent of capacity.

Based on population projections, flows are expected to reach 90 percent of 12.3 MGD by 2030.

In addition, the city experiences sanitary sewer overflows along the existing 24-inch gravity line during wet weather events. Part of the sewer collection system is at or beyond its capacity during major wet weather events.

Any future flows resulting from development will exceed the already full capacity of the collection line.

The proposed project has three phases.

Phase one includes necessary improvements to the WWTP to meet all permit parameters at a flow of 13.5 MGD.

Phases two and three will be implemented simultaneously.

Phase two includes construction of a new 4.5 MGD plant on the north side of the city’s service area.

Phase three includes the construction of collection system improvements that will divert as much as 3.03 MGD of existing flow to the new WWTP. This will reduce flows to portions of the collection system with capacity issues and to the existing WWTP.

The project also includes the preparation of an emergency preparedness plan.


Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, December 1, 2022 announced senior staff leadership in his administration following hiring and staff changes.

Gardner Pate, who was named Chief of Staff last month, will lead the governor’s team going into the 88th Legislative Session with Deputy Chief of Staff Jordan Hale and new Deputy Chief of Staff Toby Baker who will be joining the Governor’s Office later this month.

“The upcoming legislative session will require a formidable staff within the Office of the Governor, and I am pleased to announce this experienced team of talented individuals who will help our office achieve great things for the people of Texas,” said Abbott. “Texans deserve leadership that will continue guiding our state towards a more prosperous future. I look forward to working alongside Gardner, Jordan, and Toby as this exceptional team tackles critical issues and enacts policies that will safeguard freedom and opportunity for every Texan across our great state.”

Staff leadership announced on Thursday, December 1, 2022 is effective immediately, with Toby Baker and Shayne Woodard beginning their roles on December 15, 2022.

Baker will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff starting on December 15.

Baker is currently the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and previously served as Commissioner for the agency for six years. He also currently serves as an appointee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.

Prior to joining TCEQ, Baker was a policy advisor in the Governor’s Office and worked as an advisor, clerk, and staffer in the Texas Legislature.

Baker received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Service and Administration from the Texas A&M George Bush School of Government and Public Service.

He is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and the Governor’s Executive Development Program at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Woodard will serve as Director of Legislative Affairs beginning on December 15.

Woodard is the founder of Waterloo Lobby & Advocacy, Inc. Prior to founding his lobbying firm, Woodard was the Chief of Staff for Railroad Commissioner Barry Williamson. He has also worked as a legislative analyst for the Texas Association of Builders and as a staffer in and around the State Capitol for Comptroller Bob Bullock, the Texas Senate, and the Texas House of Representatives.

Woodard is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a former Tech Student Body President.

Woodard is succeeding Courtney Hjaltman, who will be departing for an upcoming appointment by the governor.

Sarah Hicks has been promoted to Senior Advisor and Budget Director.

Hicks joined Abbott’s team in October 2017 as the Budget Director and later assumed additional duties as Director of Budget and Policy.

She previously served as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of State Relations at the Texas A&M University System. Prior to that, she worked as the Committee Director of the Texas Senate Committee on Finance for former State Senators Tommy Williams and Steve Ogden.

Hicks holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Service Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Tabatha Vázquez has been promoted to Policy Director.

Vázquez previously served as the Governor’s Deputy Budget and Policy Director.

She has held various roles within the Legislature, including as a Chief of Staff in the House and as a Legislative Director and Sunset Committee Director for Senator Brian Birdwell.

Prior to her state service, she consulted and managed dozens of campaigns for candidates at all levels of government, both in Texas and across the country.

Vázquez attended Mars Hill University where she majored in sociology and criminal justice, minored in business, and played Division II Women’s Soccer.

Renae Eze has been promoted to Communications Director.

Eze has worked for Abbott since 2020 and was most recently Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor within the Office of the Governor. Prior to joining Abbott’s office, Eze served as Communications Director for Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and as Deputy Communications Director for his gubernatorial campaign.

She also previously served as Arizona Communications Director for the Republican National Committee, along with various other communications roles in politics and campaigns across the country.

Eze is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Bonnie Diehl has been promoted to Director of Scheduling and Advance.

Diehl has previously served as Abbott’s Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance, Deputy Director of Advance, and Advance Representative since 2019.

Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Diehl was Field Representative for Senator Jane Nelson and worked at Schneider Transportation.

Diehl is a graduate of the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain and Logistics Technology.

The following senior staff will continue serving in their respective leadership roles within the Office of the Governor:

Gardner Pate was named Abbott’s Chief of Staff last month.

Jordan Hale will continue serving as Deputy Chief of Staff.

Steve Munisteri will remain Senior Advisor to Governor Abbott.

Adriana Cruz will remain Executive Director of Economic Development and Tourism.

Aimee Snoddy will remain Executive Director of the Public Safety Office.

Peggy Venable will continue to serve as Abbott’s Appointments Director.

James P. Sullivan will continue to serve as General Counsel to the Governor.

Wes Hambrick will continue serving as Director of State-Federal Relations.

Chelsea Holden will continue serving as Chief of Staff to First Lady Cecilia Abbott.

Suzanne Johnson will continue serving as Director of Administration.


For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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