UPDATE: At the 6:00 pm City Council meeting tomorrow (Thursday, December 1), Aqua Texas will present their "term sheet," a proposal to provide retail service instead of the City-owned Central Area Waste Water System. We strongly urge all Wimberley area citizens to attend the meeting at
221 Stillwater, and stay informed about this important issue. Here is background information on what is at stake:
Dear Wimberley Valley residents,
Aqua Texas wants unrestricted growth in the Wimberley Valley and they are very close to getting it. In January, the Wimberley City Council is expected to decide whether to move forward with the City's approved and funded Central Area sewer plan or go with an Aqua Texas proposal.
In a letter to Mayor Mac McCullough on Oct. 27, Aqua Texas President Robert Laughman wrote:
"Unfortunately, there was also a very favorable article on Hays County in a recent edition of Forbes (financial magazine). It listed the county as the fastest growing county in the nation! Consequently, there are those in my organization that believe we should aggressively fight for the right to provide service to Wimberley Valley." More of that letter below.
Whether you live in Wimberley, or anywhere around it, you are going to be greatly impacted if the City gives up its proposed Central Area Waste Water System and accepts Aqua Texas' terms. Even if you live nowhere near the area on the sewer system, this will affect you. The lifestyle, charm and ambiance most of us love about Wimberley will be severely and quickly threatened if Aqua Texas takes over the sewer system.
Why? Because as part of its proposal to take over the city's waste water system, Aqua Texas is demanding - FOR FREE - Wimberley's valuable CCN (Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, an exclusive right to serve) which - among other things - is an essential tool that has been highly effective in significantly improving the City's control over development. Wimberley's CCN covers almost everything in the Wimberley city limits and ETJ (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) south of Cypress Creek. That's a huge area extending all the way down RR 12 to the Junction. Aqua Texas' demand for the CCN is absurd and scandalous. It is amazing the City would even consider accepting it. It benefits those who want to see Wimberley turn into another Dripping Springs.
In a Nov. 14, 2016 memo to the Mayor and City Council, City Manager Don Ferguson reported his recent discussions with Mr. Laughman on what Aqua Texas wants if it can acquire Wimberley's downtown waste water system. You can read the full memo here. Of particular note are two specific items:
Item 7: "In order to justify the offer Aqua Texas has made, Aqua Texas will insist that the City limit restrictions on future growth within the City's jurisdiction, as Aqua Texas must depend on additional growth within the granted CCN area."
"limit restrictions" means Aqua Texas insists Wimberley drop essential building ordinances and other regulations that protect us against run-away growth. Aqua Texas - don't let the name fool you, it's Aqua America - wants to add as many users as possible to their system. With the CCN in its hands, that would enable unrestricted growth. Aqua could push for the kind of Big Development that would bring them large profits, making control of Wimberley's CCN a huge financial windfall - for Aqua America's investors.
Item 10: "Aqua Texas will not pay the City for the City's Wastewater CCN."
"will not pay" means just that. Aqua Texas insists on getting this key city asset, estimated to be worth at a minimum $5.4 million, FOR FREE. Those who love Wimberley should not let it go AT ANY PRICE.
If you are wondering why Aqua Texas' for-profit parent Aqua America - notorious for taking over small town water systems and then banging up the rates - wants Wimberley so badly, Mr. Laughman explains it in that Oct. 27 letter to Mayor McCullough.
In mid-October, after conversations with Mr. Laughman, Mayor McCullough was of the understanding that Aqua Texas was withdrawing its proposal to take over Wimberley's Waste Water System. The Mayor drafted a press release to announce Aqua Texas had withdrawn, but then on Oct. 27, Mr. Laughman sent a letter to the Mayor, explaining why Aqua America - not Mr. Laughman - had decided to go full-bore to take over Wimberley's system.
The Oct. 27 letter opens with "Mac; I must apologize if I have in any way misled you..." Mr. Laughman wrote; "I was at our corporate headquarters all week. As you know, news articles on the matter have been rife. Our public relations department receives them and distributes them to my bosses. Unfortunately, there was also a very favorable article on Hays County in a recent edition of Forbes. It listed the county as the fastest growing county in the nation! Consequently, there are those in my organization that believe we should aggressively fight for the right to provide service to Wimberley Valley."
(Many financial stories have mentioned the amazing growth expectations for Central Texas and even Hays County. Here is a recent one from Forbes.)
Aqua America's plan is not just to have Aqua Texas semi-clean Wimberley's waste water (to the lower Type 2 standard) and spray it on golf courses. They want to catch a ride on the Central Texas growth merry-go-round. It's an irresistible opportunity they can milk for all it's worth - to Aqua America. And with control of Wimberley's CCN, they would be able to do just that, pushing big growth that would change Wimberley forever and for the worse.
This is just one of many reasons why it benefits Wimberley to own and control our public waste water system. It's one that will impact everyone who loves Wimberley. Read more reasons on Archives.
Thank you, and please share this with your neighbors.
- CARD Steering Committee
CARDtalks are written and approved by CARD Steering Committee members. We are listed on our website's About page.