Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TWDB to Wimberley's wastewater project: 'Where's the money, honey?'

"I'm opening a lot of the old doors," McCullough said, "(including a possible deal for sewage service through Aqua Texas), but that's such an incendiary name . . ."

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By Bob Ochoa

The City of Wimberley's wastewater treatment project application
pending before the Texas Water Development Board may be in deep doo-doo if the city, and its partner, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, can't come up with a viable plan to back an $8.5 million loan from the state for the project's construction.

City officials will be in Austin Thursday for a meeting to discuss their application with the TWDB's Finance Committee, according to the city's website. The meeting will take place at the Stephen F. Austin Building, 1700 N. Congress Ave. in Austin, Rm 170, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Two pledges made by the city and the GBRA to the Water Development Board apparently are not cutting the mustard with the Board, not enough anyway to approve the loan conditionally without further inspection. The city had pledged to have at least 60 percent of the wastewater system's projected customer base (of 300) signed up within 60 days of the loan's approval – at a cost of $10,000 per customer (paid over 5 years). The GBRA staff had pledged to go before its board to seek approval of a loan guarantee, also within 60 days after a conditional approval of the TWDB's loan.

"The original plan was to go to the (TWDB) Board itself and consider (approval of the loan)," said City Administrator Don Ferguson. "They thought it would be more appropriate to take it to the Finance Committee first . . . it's just another step." Ferguson said the city's/GBRA's loan application could go before the full Board at its October meeting, depending on the outcome of Thursday's meeting with the Finance Committee.

City Councilman Mac McCullough, fresh off his re-election in Saturday's special election, said he plans to refocus his attention on the wastewater project. McCullough said the re-election campaign and the lawsuit brought by his opponent, Gary "Catfish" Pigg, caused a "two month setback" in his efforts to promote the benefits of the wastewater project. (Mr. Pigg takes a dim view of the project, questioning if it isn't special interest driven.)

"We're not closing the door on any prospects of getting adequate sewer service to the community," said McCullough. "We've got several possibilities. If GBRA will step up and guarantee the loan then certainly (the TWDB) will not have a problem with it." The process, McCullough explained, "took a big setback because I couldn't promote it to the council and citizens."

Outside of whatever the city and council might be thinking, McCullough said he has always had a concern about the cost of the project. The current proposed plan before the TWDB would greatly expand the small wastewater treatment plant that sits on city property adjacent to the Deer Creek Nursing Center. McCullough believes a new plant will save Cypress Creek from further pollution coming from failing septic systems on the Square and other locations.

"I'm opening a lot of the old doors," McCullough said, "(including a possible deal for sewage service through Aqua Texas), but that's such an incendiary name . . . this is just preliminary thinking, not something we're ready to act on; maybe put it out for bid and see what kind of offer we get back."


Anonymous said...

"Incendiary" my arse! Aqua Texas is non sequitur, Mr. McCullough. Don't even give them any more foothold than they already have in this community. Lordy.

ATI Victim said...

Definitely stay away from Aqua Texas, you just have to look to your west at Woodcreek and Woodcreek North to see what those jerks can and will do to Wimberley. Both of the Woodcreeks are beginning to mount a fight with ATI to keep them from raising the already obscene water and sewer rates. ATI will likely win since they have the TCEQ in their pocket. The people in Woodcreek North are currently paying more that $80 a month for sewer service, about the same for water (=$160) and now they want more. Listen to me and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anonymous said...

Councilman Mac if the septic systems are failing why aren't they being shut down or fined?

Rocky Boschert said...

I suggest you good citizens re-read the article I wrote on May 26, 2009 in the Roundup about "private" but publicly-traded water companies operating local water and septic systems. The historical data documenting such service arrangements is not encouraging.

Water is generally not a commodity we want in the hands of Wall Street decision-makers and distant institutional shareholders.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2 make a good point, if a sewer “system” is indeed failing it either backs up into homes and businesses or dumps raw sewage on the ground and/or in the stream. Take your pick.

As I understand it, the biggest problem is that it is undocumented due to years of neglect and lack of code enforcement. If a business in Wimberley can not document their sewer system they should be prevented from having devices or facilities that let the sewage flow from their business.

On several occasions I have witnessed very foul sewer odors and seepage around the new mural by the bridge. I don’t even know who to call about it, anybody have a suggestion?

Anonymous said...

Before seriously considering "getting into bed" with AquaTexas, officials must check into how this entity has dealt with the takeover of systems all over the Country. While not all under the name of AquaTexas, Aqua America is the "mother" company and possibly the largest private water/sewer provider in the US. Aqua America and its subsidiaries answer to their shareholders not to you and I. Promises made, promises NOT kept. Look at maps of areas of coverage throughout the Country and then tag into news blurbs about their handling of fees,billing practices, maintenance of systems, handling of customer concerns. Shall we continue? Hopefully, Wimberley will not!

Anonymous said...

Call the TCEQ (Texas Commission Enviromental Quality) 1-888-777-3186 But, city hall should be enforcing state/federal laws. The biggest violator is a councilman.

Anonymous said...

In America these days, the regulators are run by the regulated. This is true from state entities all the way up to the federal regulators.

Isn't it amazing that the BP-Gulf oil geyser catastrophe is all of a sudden no longer a problem. It is all fixed and cleaned up. Amazing!

And what is the local citizenry doing to solve the problem of our failing infrastructure and natural environment and Wall Street corporations destroying our lives with too much
debt and crap products?

You are installing white crosses on your yards to protest our black president and your insane made up Muslim takeover of our government.

It's fake Christians like you all that is destroying America. What happened to freedom of religion? It is you psycho-Christians with symbolic KKK crosses that are betraying the American way.

I'll take Obama the corporate liberal Uncle Tom anyday over Beck the Fox Fuhrer or Palin, She-wolf of the SS.

Christians? Or the devil's disciples pretending to be Americans?

Anonymous said...

“You are installing white crosses on your yards to protest our black president and your insane made up Muslim takeover of our government”

What? You have totally lost it; this statement makes no sense and is not germane to the subject at hand. If you can put a white cross in your yard to protest your black president and his Muslim takeover of our Country, count me in. I have never heard of such a nutty thing.

Anonymous said...

"Count you in" last Anonymous? I think that says a lot about you and your sad ilk. Electing Obama was the ONLY forward thinking political decision this country has made in ages.

So what if he is turning out to be nothing more than a moderate Republican with ideas from the Eighties.

Yet you white right wing nuts are so angry that more corrupt and mediocre white people lost control of the presidency, you all are willing to sabotage our economic recovery just to prove your destructive point.

I pity your children. They are going to need a lot of therapy to get over the hate seething in your souls.

The point at hand: water companies like Aqua Texas know your stupid Tea Party "free markets" gullibility will allow them to come in and make us residents contractual slaves to their humanless corporate profit mindset.

But my guess is you wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

Joe the Rationalist said...

Isn't it time you Wimberley dinosaurs stopped harping about unincorporation. It is not going to happen, and you are just wasting your potential for good ideas and solutions on past decisions that are not going to change.

Start using your minds in productive ways and on problem-solving for the future.

You un-incorporation people with your made up conspiracy theory "illegal incorporation" nonsense remind me of the ridiculous birthers with their Obama non-citizen birth certificate dribble.

Stop embarrassing yourselves with such thoughts. If you can't seem to stop the obsession, see a doctor about getting some Lexipro.