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DONNA, RGV – To the delight and relief of city residents, Donna Public Works Department has fixed drainage issues that have plagued certain streets for 50 years.

And, the department has initiated work on drainage lines on other streets that have been prone to flooding for 35 years.

Details on the major projects were outlined to the Rio Grande Guardian by Public Works Supervisor Daniel Ramirez.

“We have initiated work on drainage lines located on East Fordyce Street which should resolve a drainage issue that has been plaguing the City for over 35 years,” Ramirez said. “And, the flooding problem that currently exists on South D. Salinas Boulevard and Business 83 will once and for all be addressed.”

Ramirez added that his team has completed a drainage project which will eliminate flooding along Business 83 and 12th Street. He said residents in the area voiced their concerns in no uncertain terms, telling city officials that: “It was about time, since the flooding issue has been a problem for over 50 years.”

He said one of the comments made was: “It had been a long time coming. The City got involved and finally did something about the drainage.”

Another comment was: “We’re tired of seeing cars stalled when it rained. We are glad someone at City Hall is finally addressing these issues that have been lingering in the City of Donna forever.”

Some of the Donna residents went public with their comments. “As long as I’ve lived here, we’ve had flooding problems. Water comes all the way up the driveways. It’s especially dangerous for kids getting off their school buses,” said 30-year Donna resident Tony Maldonado. He said he was “grateful to city crews for addressing the drainage problems along Fordyce Street.”

Ramirez said the Public Works Department has scheduled new construction for South Hutto Road from Business 83 to South Avenue and 17th Street from Business 83 to Hester. “Both streets will be completely reconstructed and new drainage lines will be installed at a cost of one million dollars,” Ramirez said.

On the north side of town, Ramirez said, construction has been initiated to install drainage at two intersections located on North D. Salinas Boulevard. He acknowledged that Peacock and Mile 10 North Street that intersect D. Salinas currently have drainage issues. “This project is being conducted in cooperation with TxDOT and should eliminate the flooding issues that residents from the area are experiencing.”

This news pleased Cleve Ford, president of Dargel Boats. “Ever since TxDOT widened FM 493 we have had flooding issues. I’m happy the City is going to fix our problems. I have been complaining for years that water comes in our showroom every time we get a big rain, finally someone at City Hall listened to us,” Ford said.

Ramirez said residents from Lopez-Gutierrez were “ecstatic” when they learned their street was going to be paved. He said the paving project is expected to take two weeks to complete.

“The residents in this small neighborhood have been driving on a caliche street since they moved into the neighborhood 20 years ago,” Ramirez pointed out.

Ramiro Anzalduas-Peña, a resident who moved into Lopez-Gutierrez in 1983, said he was “happy and relieved” because children had to walk to the very end of the street to get picked up by the school bus. “The bus would not enter down our road and there was danger for the children since it is a busy intersection.”

Anzalduas-Peña said he has been “suffering with a dirt road” since he moved onto Lopez-Gutierrez. “The County never paved our street and now that we are in the City, they are going to pave it for us. We want to thank the city manager for taking the initiative to pave it. We have never met with him, but all of our complaints in the past have gone unheard until now.”

Improvements to City facilities

Donna Public Works Department is also making improvements to City facilities. Utilities Supervisor Jonas Gonzalez said a new fueling system that will allow the City to purchase fuel directly from a supplier has been installed at the Public Works Department. “There will no longer be a need for drivers to purchase fuel at the local Valero. The new fueling system will keep an electronic file for each vehicle and allow maintenance to be scheduled. This system will save us money on routine maintenance and allow to keep track of mileage for each driver,” Gonzalez said.

Public Works Supervisor Ramirez said his department recently received a new patch trailer. “This will allow City crews to use hot mix instead of cold mix when patching potholes,”  Ramirez explained. Currently City crews use cold mix. Ramirez said this is not an effective way to fix potholes. “When we use cold mix it’s like throwing money away. The new trailer will help us eliminate potholes and in the long run save the city money. We have been waiting for a long time to purchase a trailer like the one we just received. I am grateful to the City Manager and City Council for purchasing the equipment for our Department,” Ramirez said.

Utilities Supervisor Gonzalez said his department has also installed a 6-inch waterline to its waste water treatment plant. He said this is expected to save the department with costs associated with maintenance of the plant. “FEMA provided the City a $185,000 grant to replace the bar screen which was damaged during the October floods. The screen will keep large objects from entering the plant that could potentially damage the clarifiers. Since October, the City has replaced three rotors damaged by the storm at a cost of $200,000,” Gonzalez pointed out.

Interim City Manager Ernesto S. Silva said the city will be initiating construction of a 1-million-gallon elevated storage tank to replace the existing 500,000-gallon elevated storage tank located next to the Benny LaPrade Stadium. Silva said the new tank will be constructed by Phoenix Tanks Fabricators at a cost of approximately $2.1 million and will include the dismantling of the existing tower.

“The new tower will be located north of the expressway, adjacent to The Shops at 493 and will provide much needed water pressure and fire protection to the entire Interstate 2 corridor,” Silva said. “Without this new tower the City cannot attract new businesses along the Interstate. As a result, this major investment will begin paying dividends immediately. We are making all of these projects happen while lowering our water rates. That should make our residents happy.”