A Colonia is a community located within 150 miles from the United States and Mexico border, excluding any area that is in a standard metropolitan area with a population exceeding one million people. In addition, a Colonia is determined by basic objective criteria, such as lack of potable water supply, lack of an adequate sewer system, or lack of safe and sanitary housing. Other common, but not mandatory characteristics of Colonias are that they often lack solid waste and garbage disposal services as well as adequate roads with pavement and drainage (storm drains, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks). Each of these characteristics factor into the health risks associated with living in a Colonia.
Funds utilized for improvements to Colonias are primarily obtained through the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – Colonia Allocation. Colonia improvements focus on addressing the lack of adequate sewage systems, water services, and decent housing.
Nine of fifteen Colonias in the Imperial County are located in the unincorporated areas of the County. They include:
- Palo Verde
- Bombay Beach
- Salton Sea