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Lucio, EPA and TCEQ to have Press Conference Outlining Remediation Process of the Donna Reservoir and Canal System

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Multi-Million Dollar Superfund Cleanup Process Underway

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.

Texas Border Business

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DONNA, TX– Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. along with EPA representatives, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioner Bobby Janecke and invited members from ARISE will have a joint press conference at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at The Donna Reservoir and Canal System on N. Valley View Road, Donna, Texas (north side), to discuss the remediation process of the Donna Reservoir and Canal System (DCS) which has elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in its sediments and fish within the canal system.

“I am proud to say this massive federal Superfund Site remediation program is underway due to the joint efforts of federal and state entities,” said Lucio. “Over the years we have worked together to clean up and ultimately remove the pollutants that are a health risk to our regional environment. We are on our way to restoring the natural habitat so that one day the Donna area irrigation system will be safe and our residents can enjoy the healthy environment.”

Last month EPA contractors began the preparation phase of the cleanup at the  DCS Federal Superfund Site.  This project should take over a month to complete. Actual sediment removal is anticipated to begin in March and will continue for several months. 

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The DCS is a 400-acre system of canals and piping. It is operated by the Donna Irrigation District Hidalgo County #1 (DID) and water for the reservoir and canal system is pumped from the Rio Grande River and then used for water supply and irrigation storage by the City of Donna and surrounding areas. On its way to the reservoir, the water travels beneath a portion of the Arroyo Colorado through a concrete (inverted) siphon constructed in 1928.

Since 2008 the EPA has conducted 7 fish removals totaling over 47,724 fish. In 1994 the EPA ordered a fish possession ban at the DCS which remains in effect. 

The first phase of the cleanup will begin in March 2020 and includes excavating the sediments, removing fish, monitoring and eventually replacing the siphon, which is believed by the EPA to be the source of the contamination of the DCS. The estimated cost for this phase is approximately $10,900,000.

The TCEQ provided $3,522,000 to EPA in November 2019 for the first phase of the remedy, of which $2,000,000 was appropriated in fiscal year 2020 under Rider 28 for the remediation of the Donna Canal System Federal Superfund site.  

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The cost estimate for the entire remedy is approximately $19,000,000.

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