Colonias are substandard housing developments, often found along the Texas-Mexico border, where residents lack basic services such as drinking water, sewage treatment, and paved roads. The State of Texas has undertaken a number of programs to remedy the conditions in existing colonias and to prevent new colonias.

The Office of the Attorney General has enforcement responsibilities under several of these laws. To assist the public and governmental agencies in understanding and following these laws, the Office of the Attorney General has compiled them into a booklet and developed assorted materials to explain them.

Texas laws intended to prevent colonias take a variety of forms and apply in a variety of circumstances. The Texas Legislature has refined these laws during the past 15 years. Some of the major laws apply only in the border area or in "economically distressed" counties with high unemployment and low per capita income.

The laws have four major thrusts:

  1. requiring subdividers to provide basic infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, and drainage) when creating (or "platting") new residential developments,

  2. restricting the advertising and selling of lots that are not platted or that lack water and sewer,

  3. limiting connections to utilities in substandard areas, and

  4. mandating certain disclosures and protections when lots are sold through contracts for deeds.

Colonias Prevention Offices

Colonias prevention investigators receive inquiries and complaints, investigate alleged violations of the colonias prevention laws, and work with attorneys in the Environmental Protection Division to take appropriate action to address the violations. To file a complaint regarding the colonias prevention laws, please contact the Rio Grande Valley Office at the telephone numbers listed below. 

Austin Office

Environmental Protection Division
300 West 15th St, 10th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 463-2012
Fax: (512) 320-0052

Rio Grande Valley Office

3508 N. Jackson, Suite 1500
Pharr, Texas 78577
Phones: (956) 664-8606; (956) 664-8602
Fax: (956) 283-1802