North American Development Bank provides $6.23 million grant to benefit 15 colonias along Texas border

The North American Development Bank announced a $6.23 million grant to the city of Laredo and Webb County, Texas for a joint water and wastewater project benefiting 15 area colonias.

LAREDO, Texas, Feb. 27, 2001 — On Saturday, the North American Development Bank (NADB) announced a $6.23 million grant to the city of Laredo and Webb County, Texas for a joint water and wastewater project benefiting 15 area colonias. This financial assistance is made available through the Bank's EPA-funded Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF).

Dedicated to construction assistance, $1,215,000 of the BEIF grant will help connect 900 households, or 3,725 colonia residents to fIrst time water distribution and wastewater collection services. The remaining $5,016,450 in BEIF funds will defray the cost of improvements to the existing water and wastewater systems.

"We cannot continue allowing colonia residents to live in conditions similar to those in third world countries. We have to help them," Secretary of State Henry Cuellar emphasized. "My office will continue to work hard to address these health concerns by supporting existing and proposed health programs, and I will make sure these services are delivered in a timely and effective manner."

In addition to the Secretary of State, also on hand to mark the announcement were Laredo Mayor Elizabeth G. Flores, Webb County Judge Mercurio Martinez, State Representative Richard Raymond, State Representative Tracy King and NADB Managing Director Raul Rodriguez.

"This is a great day! Those of us who have worked toward this day for many many years know that it has always been about the people," said Mayor Betty Flores. "The people of the colonias struggle every day for their families and for their future. They are people who deserve our help and our attention. Their pioneering spirit has made this state strong. The city of Laredo is looking forward to completing this project on time and on budget."

The entire project is estimated to cost $21.58 million with an anticipated completion date of August 2003. The NADB's sister institution, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), certified this project on September 14, 2000.

"The Bank has an obligation to assist and support the communities along the border," said Raul Rodriguez, NADB's managing director. "Our partnership with the Secretary of State's office, the city of Laredo and Webb County is just another example of our commitment to a cooperative effort ultimately benefiting this region."

Established in 1997, the BEIF is a grant program administered by the NADB to facilitate environmental infrastructure projects throughout the U.S.-Mexico border region. EPA provided an initial contribution of $170 million for water and wastewater projects with an additional $82 million added to the fund by EPA in the past two years. More than $265 million in BEIF assistance has been approved to date.

The NADB is currently working with sponsors of 35 BECC certified projects who have requested financial assistance from the Bank. NADB participation in these projects is estimated at $338 million, 56 percent in Mexico and 44 percent in the U.S.

The North American Development Bank, created under the auspices of NAFTA, is a financial institution established and capitalized in equal parts by the United States and Mexico for the purpose of financing environmental infrastructure projects along their common border. As a pioneer institution in its field, the Bank is working to develop integrated, sustainable and fiscally responsible projects with broad community support in a framework of close cooperation and coordination between Mexico and the United States.

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