Presidio City Council talks funding for water infrastructure projects

Presidio City Council talks funding for water infrastructure projects



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PRESIDIO — At Tuesday’s meeting, Presidio City Council discussed grant-funded overhauls to the city’s aging water system — adjusting the budget for one set of projects using existing funding and setting goals for a new round of grant applications. 

The meeting included both a second public hearing and a vote on the city’s priorities for the Texas Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) program. City Administrator Pablo Rodriguez laid out his wishlist for grant funding with estimates from the city’s finance experts and input from department heads. 

The majority of the list concerned water infrastructure projects. Top billing was given to the existing water tower, which needs a thorough cleaning and a new standpipe, followed by adding and replacing valves on service lines and thoroughly mapping those lines. 

Rodriguez had also been approached by the county about potential ideas for diverting flood water in areas of town prone to being inundated during monsoon season — officials were interested in building and expanding retention ponds. “The goal is improving our streets with flood control,” he said. 

Lower-priority items included adding a water catchment system to the Presidio Activities Center and library, extending the wastewater system to underserved parts of town and beginning the expensive process of planning a new landfill site. “There’s more on water than anything else,” said Rodriguez. 

Mayor John Ferguson explained that the Rio Grande Council of Governments (RioCOG) will take the lead on helping the City of Presidio apply for TxCDBG funding. The grant process is competitive, and prioritizing projects in advance will help increase the likelihood that urgent needs are addressed. “It’s just one pot of money that’s available,” he said. 

Some of the hurry to complete water projects is due to the fact that the city’s water system is made up of parts that are designed to alternate — but is currently running on only one well. Council ultimately moved to approve Rodriguez’s list of priorities and move ahead with the grant application process. 

Next on the docket, the city discussed budget adjustments to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. ARPA funds were funds disbursed to local governments by the Biden administration as part of a COVID-19 relief effort — the money requires no matching funds from the city. 

Ultimately, the budget adjustments were small — tacking on an additional $500 to the budget approved a year ago — but council still decided to discuss the possibility of shuffling priorities around. “We’re reprioritizing items because wells have started having problems since we started working on this,” said Finance Specialist Malynda Richardson.

Mayor Pro Tempore John Razo ultimately moved to accept the adjusted budget, so long as electrical problems that had cropped up in the existing lift stations were bumped up in priority. “You guys are doing a really good job,” Razo said, addressing the city’s public works crew, finance department and engineer Ramon Carrasco. “We really need to get this done.”