7 Reasons to Tell City Council Members:
"Don’t surrender Wimberley’s wastewater control to Aqua Texas"
At his first city council meeting, newly elected Mayor Mac McCullough announced an ad hoc Wastewater Review Committee to review - again - the previously approved, permitted, funded and long-awaited wastewater treatment plant for central Wimberley. Mayor McCullough appointed the six member committee, which met for the first time on May 26. At that meeting, the committee was directed to consider all alternatives to this approved plan, including considering Aqua Texas as an alternative solution to the planned city-owned plant.
All previous review committees have considered and rejected Aqua Texas as a possible contractor to treat Wimberley's wastewater, and this one should also. The committee is scheduled to make its recommendations in 30 days, so that the City Council can make any final changes by July 1. City Council does not have to take the committee's findings. CARD's concern is that a new council might accept their recommendations without question.
In its first meeting, several members of the committee spoke in what seemed to be positive terms of the Aqua Texas option, though no one openly endorsed it. Yet.
CARD urges the committee, City Council and the people of Wimberley to look closely at what it could mean for the long-term good of this community to give up our already approved and about to be built wastewater treatment plant, and surrender utility control to Aqua Texas.
Aqua Texas (Aqua America) has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Aqua Texas is owned by Aqua America, a publicly traded Pennsylvania-based corporation that operates water supply and treatment plants across the U.S. As such, its first concern is profitability and return for its shareholders, not necessarily its customers/ratepayers.
Wimberley would knowingly enter a permanent agreement with a service provider with a long documented history of water line losses of over 35% in Woodcreek and Woodcreek North, and broken promises to resolve those problems. This continues despite universal knowledge of our challenged and already declining water source, the Trinity aquifer, from which Aqua Texas (and local wells) draws water.
Rates charged for treatment would be largely out of the City's control. Talk to your friends in Woodcreek and Woodcreek North, who pay for Aqua Texas water and sewer and have no means to challenge the high rates. The Texas Public Utility Commission has the final say on rates that Aqua Texas may charge for its services. Wimberley could only file appeals to their high rates.
The Aqua Texas water treatment facility treats wastewater to only a Type 2 quality, classified as "not suitable for human contact," before spreading it on golf courses to seep back into the land. The already permitted Wimberley Wastewater Plant will be built to treat to Type 1 quality - safe for human contact - so the water may be reused in our community to sustain and beautify Blue Hole Regional Park, or even be returned to downtown for landscape use, reducing demands on our dwindling groundwater supply. Read about types of reclaimed water quality.
By choosing lower quality Aqua Texas water treatment, Wimberley, a town dependent on tourism and its eco-tourism reputation, publically loses credibility as an advocate for its best natural asset, clean water.
If Wimberley were to contract with Aqua Texas, it would no longer have the much anticipated Type 1 treated water from the wastewater plant and Wimberley would have to buy more water from a local water vendor(s), leading to increased costs and further draining the aquifer on which residential and business wells depend.
Without the reuse water, 126-acre Blue Hole Regional Park, one of Wimberley's major attractions, built on an award-winning philosophy of water conservation and overall sustainability, could be left high and dry. Without Type 1 treated water to maintain soccer fields and landscaping, our fabulous park and its reputation would be in trouble.
Consider the history of Aqua Texas in the Wimberley area. Years ago Woodcreek hired Aqua Texas to avoid the challenges of creating its own sewage treatment plant. Aqua Texas' poor service (F rating) and high water losses have made most residents regret that decision.
A new wastewater treatment plant is a major undertaking for any city. We all want Wimberley to make the best and wisest choices. Many factors are being revisited by the mayor's ad hoc committee, including costs, the type of sewage conveyance, how to disperse effluent, storage capacity and much more. The Aqua Texas decision may seem an alluringly easy way to escape making the tough choices, but it could have more dire consequences than any of the other issues being reviewed.
CARD believes Aqua Texas is not an option for the management of Wimberley wastewater, and is not in the best interest of the people of Wimberley Valley.
Please tell Mayor McCullough, City Council members and the Mayor's ad hoc Wastewater Review Committee (Grady Burnette - Chair, Chris Oddo, Gail Pigg, David Glenn, Mike Stevens, and John Urban). Urge them to keep the wastewater treatment plant on track and controlled by the City of Wimberley, not Aqua Texas.
Email addresses for City Council members...
Mayor McCullough does not use his city email and asks citizens to use his personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the City Calendar, the next meeting of the mayor's ad hoc Wastewater Review Committee is set at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 31, in City Hall Chambers, 221 Stillwater, Wimberley TX 78676. The meetings are open to the public.
- CARD Steering Committee