EDINBURG, RGV – With eyes fixed on “tremendous growth” into the foreseeable future, city leaders in Edinburg say an updated water plant will be a vital component for future expansion.

On March 25, Edinburg held a groundbreaking for a $12.8 million expansion of its West Edinburg Water Plant located at 1752 S. Monmack Road, essentially kicking off major infrastructure projects that will accommodate growth in the city for decades, city leaders say.

Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza
Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza

Conservative estimates by the city forecast a population of 90,000 within the next five years, but city management says it is planning ahead, aggressively expanding infrastructure to accommodate 100,000 by 2020.

“This is a key action for us in terms of preparing for the future,” said Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, referring to the expansion of the water plant. “It’s a direct result of planning for years ahead. We have seen the growth that we have had and we continue to have.”

Garza says the expansion is needed to accommodate for current growth patterns, which are at an all-time high in Edinburg. Since April 1, the city’s population has increased by 8.4 percent according to the Census Bureau. This does not include the areas newly annexed in 2014 and 2015.

The city’s population currently stands at about 85,000. The expansion of the water plant will increase water output from eight million gallons a day to 16 million gallons a day by the time it is completed in Sept 2016.

“We have the building permits, the subdivisions, everything that accounts for the numbers that we feel. Unfortunately, the way the Census works is everybody has to fill out a form in order to be counted. If you don’t fill it out, you’re not going to be counted,” Garza said. “So, we just feel that there is always an undercount. I think when we speak conservatively we are actually talking about an undercount because if we were to get an accurate count, I think we would be close to 90,000 already.

“For us, it’s working with the county (Hidalgo) and working with the other water districts like North Alamo and Sharyland,” Garza said. “Together, we can service areas, but this is doing our part to prepare for the future.”

When it comes to growth in the city, all signs point north. There is more than 18 miles of frontage along I-69 Central that goes all the way to Highway 186 in northern Edinburg, and that includes 11 miles of frontage to Highway 490 near the city limits.

The city, however, lays claim to the incorporated land even further north, and factors in its use for future expansion.

“On the commercial and industrial side, there is no limit at this point on how we can grow. We have the ability to grow north of the city, including northeast and northwest,” Garza said. “It is still within the jurisdiction of the city, there’s no incorporated city north of Edinburg. For us, it’s not just about planning what we have in the city to grow, it’s also what can come in the future north of us where there is no incorporated city to be able to provide water service.”

The city is meanwhile planning “long range” by investing in its infrastructure, following on the heels of the construction of its water treatment facility it is also aggressively pursuing opportunities to expand roadways that are going to be key thoroughfares for access from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley to various locations in the community.

The city is working with the county to expand 10th Street, a major retail corridor in McAllen, to Monte Christo in northern Edinburg. Right now 10th Street ends at Highway 107.

The city is also looking to expand Owassa Road and has begun a partnership with the City of Pharr, and Hidalgo County Precincts 2 and 4 to expand Owassa on the west side of 281 that connects all the way to McAllen, which it becomes Dove Road. This is the area where Edinburg Regional Hospital and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance are located. The road expansion plans for this area factor in growth caused by UT-RGV’s School of Medicine.

The city is also working with RMAs in Hidalgo and Cameron counties in order to expand Monte Christo Road into Cameron County. The future Highway 1925 will eventually link to a second causeway planned into South Padre Island.

“If we don’t play this right, if we’re not ready for this kind of expansion we’re looking for in the City of Edinburg, then we won’t keep up (so) it’s really important that the infrastructure keep up with the growth patterns in Edinburg,” said Edinburg Pro Tem Elias Longoria. “It’s not glamorous, and it may not be something people get excited about but when the new restaurants are here, when the new arena is up and they see that framework coming up, people are going to get real excited about new investments in the city.”