Water Equity Clearinghouse

A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE)

Rio Grande Valley, TX

A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE) is a community-based organization working with families in four colonias in South Texas to strengthen their communities. ARISE strives to respond to specific community needs around issues like immigration, housing, and the environment.

Colonias are rural, unincorporated residential areas along the US-Mexico border that often do not receive the same services as nearby cities, such as adequate street lighting or water infrastructure. These areas also tend to face high rates of poverty, unemployment, and public health issues. To address these challenges, ARISE uses leadership training, colonia committee building, and strategic action plans to hold decision makers accountable to their constituents.

ARISE’s philosophy is centered around the idea that “ARISE does not do for the people what the people can do for themselves.” Thus, ARISE provides resources to help residents reach self-identified goals in their communities. The organization also offers educational programs and workshops for youth and adults that focus on personal development and leadership.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Recently, ARISE has partnered with La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS) to campaign for inclusive drainage decisions that find practical solutions to flooding in Hidalgo County.

In Hidalgo County, inequalities in the current drainage system can leave colonias inundated by floodwaters for weeks at a time because the water has nowhere to go. Standing water poses a risk to roads, homes, and residents. Flooded septic tanks contaminate ground water. Stagnant water can also be a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes that infect humans and animals.

ARISE, LUPE, and TxLIHIS are now working together to give county residents, especially colonia residents, a voice in decision-making processes around how to update and change drainage systems. These groups also work to distribute funding in an equitable manner to colonias that experience the worst flooding. Finally, ARISE, LUPE, and TxLIHIS are setting standards through the Model Subdivision Rules which will protect future neighborhoods from 25-year rain and flooding events.