By Jack Fink

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Thanks to a new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture the Sandbranch community in Dallas County will soon have water and sewer for the first time.

Sandbranch resident Mary Nash stands in front of the home she and her brother grew up in – without any government supplied water. “Sandbranch is home”, Nash says.

For the first time in the 56 years, since her family’s house has stood on Lake Street, Nash and other residents hope the hand pumps they’ve relied on to get water, will become a part of history.

Nash says, “This is the beginning of Sandbranch getting water.”

That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office announced a $30,000 grant to study setting up a water and sewer system.

To do that, the community established the Sandbranch Development and Water Supply Corporation that would run the systems.

They elected Mary Nash its first president.

During a news conference at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Seagoville, Nash became emotional after receiving the grant. “Words can’t express how my heart feels right now.”

The battle over water has been a big controversy for years in this small community in rural southeast Dallas County of about 100 people.

Nash says this fight is part of her family’s history.  “That’s my mom.  She fought for water”, looking at a picture of her mother standing near a pump.

Some Dallas County leaders though have opposed putting in water and sewer here because Sandbranch is in a floodplain.

They would rather buy out residents and relocate them.

Judge Clay Jenkins disagrees — and says no county tax dollars have to be used to pay for it.  “What I’m asking the county to do is as we move forward, don’t be an impediment to the private sector and federal and state governments and our efforts to improve the lives to live here in Dallas County.”

Instead, some federal grants and loans will be considered to help residents here get started.

The USDA says residents would pay for the systems in their monthly bill.

Nash says she can’t help but be optimistic.  “I want Sandbranch to be here 100 years and I want people to talk about it and love it the way I love it, the way we loved it, and still love it.”

The USDA says it expects to complete its preliminary engineering report and environmental analysis in the next 60 days.

Afterwards, it will determine the most effective method to have residents pay for the systems.

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