POSTED: Sunday, February 17, 2013 - 12:14am
UPDATED: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 1:23pm
They're basic amenities most of us take for granted. Water and sewer.
But residents of Montana Vista know what life is like without them. Today, they organized a town meeting at their local fire department to ask county and state leaders for the same type of wastewater system the rest of El Paso enjoys.
"It's a need, it's a must. We must have that to live in better conditions," says Tina Silva, a resident.
"We pay similar amount of taxes to others in the city of El Paso, but we don't have the same services that the rest of the city does," says Francisco Gonzalez.
Montana Vista currently operates on septic tanks - a system that some say can pose serious health hazards and environmental problems. In Montana Vista, residents say water from the tanks overflow and release foul odors into the air, waste seeps onto the land, attracting insects and rodents. This causes families to panic.
"I got kids and I don't want to one day see them get sick," says Firmin Valenzuela.
"We need to make sure we get a sewer system in so we can make sure our families are healthy and safe here in Montana Vista," says State Representative Mary Gonzalez.
County Commissioner Vince Perez came to today's meeting to hear the community's concerns. He says Montana Vista is essentially a rural community, with homes spread out so much that a sewer system would take a lot of planning and be expensive to install. But Perez says his office supports the project and residents will have to be patient.
"As County Commissioner, I have three priorities. Number one, I want to ensure that those residents who don't have access to clean water will have that. Residents who don't have access to wastewater services will hopefully have that soon, and third, residents who don't have access to natural gas," says Commissioner Perez.
A sewer system in Montana Vista would benefit more than 800 families but according to Perez, residents will most likely have to wait 4 years for this service. Locals say they're afraid the longer they wait, the more they'll be forgotten.
"We live in the Colonias but we still Americans. We still pay taxes. And please help us," says Silva.