Tuesday, June 6, 2017


By Juan Montoya
For months, perhaps even years, silt has been accumulating on the tail end of the Military Highway Water Supply lines extending toward the farthest extremes in San Pedro, in the western outskirts of Brownsville.

As a result, the water at that westernmost part of Brownsville served by the MHWSC has been yellow, green or any number of disagreeable colors and rancid taste. Efforts by the MHWSC engineers and work crews to flush the system only removed a layer of the plaque inside the pipes and the rest of the residue remained. The only solution seemed to replace the entire section of the system's pipes with new conduits, an impossible demand on the fiscally-strapped utility.

All along, the residents have petitioned the board of the MHWSC, city, county and state officials – elected and unelected – to step forward and come to their aid. Letters to Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio and his equally worthless son Eddie Lucio III went unanswered. Residents also sent letters to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and just about every other state agency having to do with drinking water.

The MHWSC has been under an agreed order to do something about the quality of the water since 2015. In that docket, the utility agreed that it had failed to assure that it reduce the levels of arsenic in its water.

Image result for alex dominguez, brownsvilleCity of Brownsville and Cameron County officials – Brownsville Public Utility Board engineers and Precinct 2 county commissioner Alex Dominguez – thought they had worked out a temporary solution when lawyers for the MHWSC and the PUB agreed to work out a contract that would bring water from the PUB to San Pedro residents pending the MHWSC's fixing of the problem. The PUB already has lines extending to the Veterans Memorial High School, a few miles south of San Pedro.

All that fell through when at the last moment the directors of the Military Highway utility backed out of the deal and nixed signing on the dotted line. No one involved in the negotiations could explain why.

Some Brownsville politicians – most recently commissioners Rose Gowen and JohnVillarreal – saw an opportunity to garner some votes for their reelection this past May and held a "town hall" meeting none of the residents had requested. At that meeting, Gowen and Villarreal promised them they would do their utmost to help them if reelected. That was a big "if" because Villarreal lost and Gowen – once she won – now told them there is little, if anything, she can do.

That was back in early May.

During the utility's May 25 meeting, the results of months of ingesting or coming in contact with the contaminated water took on a more serious tone. With Dominguez speaking on behalf of the residents, San Pedro mothers showed the MHWSC board members the effects of contact with the system's water. They lifted the shirts of a young boy and showed them the patches of rough, scaly skin and bumps due to the bad water. Mothers with six- and seven-month-old babies were begging and crying for the board members to do something because they are scared of their babies dying of an infection or bacterial contamination.

With the obvious threat to the residents health as a result of the system's continuing failure to fix the problem, Dominguez warned the board that they could face legal action in the courts brought on by the state or even by the residents, a warning echoed by the residents who spoke at the meeting.

No one was there from the City of Brownsville on behalf of the residents at that meeting since the elections had already been held on May 6. But we have learned that the residents have already acquired legal representation and that the law firm was in the process of preparing their lawsuit against the MHWSC and its board. The chickens, it appears, have come home to roost.


Anonymous said...

Mexicans just cannot govern! History shows us that, juan. Tell that story.

Anonymous said...

We live in San Pedro, water quality is horrible, not to mention we pay $70 a month to MHWSC. We are lucky that we have installed water softener and water filtration system, but others are not so lucky. We have been promised changes over and over again to no avail!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Neece help San Pedro!!! you have bigger cajones then John Villarreal ever did.

Anonymous said...

Agree Ben Neece is for the people

Anonymous said...

Is Mayor Martinez the attorney for the San Pedro residents? He made his millions off of the anacephaletic problem in Matamoros in the early 90s, when all scientific studies showed that the problem was not caused by the maquila industry. But their insurance companies paid up to avoid all the lawsuits. As a result, General Motors scrapped its plans to build a BILLION DOLLAR auto manufacturing plant in Matamoros and moved it to outside of Monterrey. The other Auto manufacturers soon followed suite by building their plants near Monterrey.

In San Pedro, there really is a problem and is is directly attributed to the MHWS district. Should be easy pickings for the mayor.

Anonymous said...

We need to consolidate all the water districts to insure that all citizens get quality water. These little water districts are like "fiefdoms" and the leaders see themselves as "lords". Too many separate little governments in Cameron County. Time for the county or even the state to step in to get positive action from these "lords".

Anonymous said...

At June 6, 2017 at 9:05 PM

".. bigger cajones..", bigger boxes? WTF?

Anonymous said...

Follow the $$$$$$, if Rep. Lucio III isn't on your payroll (i.e. Hidalgo County Drainage District #1), then you aren't getting the tens of millions from the budget of the Texas Legislature (every year since 2013). Just ask him why he invoices the County (via an engineer) during the legislative session and the budgets include his projects year after year. #whoisTEDSI?

Anonymous said...

Actually cajones would be drawers, not boxes... Duh