EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Federal officials on Thursday broke ground on water distribution projects worth more than $20 million in a working-class suburb of El Paso.

The money will be used to decommission household septic tanks and install a wastewater collection system, and also to distribute potable water to homes in Vinton, Texas, the North American Development Bank announced.

Up to $6.5 million of the funds come from Border Environment Infrastructure Fund. Other funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas Water Development Board.

“Rural communities across Texas are taking the initiative to ensure they have the water they need, not only for today but also for the future,” said Kathleen Jackson, member of the Texas Water Development Board.  

The Village of Vinton is some 20 miles north of Downtown El Paso, which itself is a few minutes’ walk from Mexico. Vinton has a population of nearly 3,000 people.

The new system will include the installation of water distribution lines, meters, and a regional storage tank.  It will increase access to safe drinking water services for more than 360 households by replacing the current substandard small water systems to provide access to a fully compliant water source and eliminate exposure to arsenic and pathogenic, officials said.

“Every community deserves access to clean water and a reliable wastewater system,” said Earthea Nance, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA is proud to fund this project to help keep the residents of Vinton safe and thriving. We look forward to working with additional communities to build capacity in their water infrastructure” through federal funding.

The new wastewater collection system will provide first-time services for 506 existing homes and eliminate discharges of 275,000 gallons per day of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial sources, officials said at a groundbreaking Thursday.

The Village of Vinton will own the collection system infrastructure, including a local lift station. El Paso Water will operate and maintain the system. This portion of the work to be done in Vinton will cost $13.3 million.