TWDB Public Hearing Follow-Up
Thank you ...
... from CARD to all who attended the Tuesday, January 8 Texas Water Development Board Public Hearing on the current city council's proposed change from a city-managed wastewater system to a deal with Aqua Texas. We applaud your activism and citizenship, whichever side you are on.
Twenty-seven people went to the podium to speak. That left 68 of the 95 total who signed up to speak still waiting when the meeting was ended.
If you were not able to speak but still want to address the Texas Water Development Board, find how to do it at the end of this report. You only have until January 18.
The Johnson Hall of the Wimberley Community Center was almost full, with people standing along the back wall. The majority stayed for 2 hours, 20 minutes. A few - perhaps two dozen - even stayed after for the long-promised Mayor's Town Hall meeting.
It is likely to be a good while before we learn if the TWDB plans to continue their $5.2 million low-interest, long-term loan to the city now that the council has proposed abandoning the city-managed wastewater treatment plant in favor of Aqua Texas. But last night's hearing reconfirmed what was evident at every city council meeting and town hall event since the plan to change became clear; the majority of people following the sewer issue are against the change.
TWDB required the city to hold this meeting so it could get citizen input. Though TWDB was not officially present, the city is required to forward all submitted testimonies to the TWDB. Comments were also recorded and the event was videotaped at the request of the many groups opposing the change to Aqua Texas.
Who won? Everyone who showed up or spoke in support of their true beliefs. There were strong feelings and some good statements from both sides.
Who lost? Unfortunately hearts and heads are long-entrenched on this issue; it is doubtful any minds present were changed by the 3-minute speeches. But the real audience, though not present, was the Texas Water Development Board.
CARD - and clearly a large-majority of attendees - was very disappointed in the way the meeting was conducted. When the full audio and video become available, judge for yourself. Our comments:
The first 47 minutes - a full third of the 140 minute "public hearing" - was consumed by a PowerPoint presentation by the Mayor of the council's many contested and suspect "facts." The audience was not given any chance for response.
- This was followed by 93 minutes of public comment; when the Mayor called a halt, the many people who had prepared comments, and had waited hours and still not been heard, loudly protested. They were told to submit comments to TWDB in writing.
- As has become the "norm" only since this new council and Mayor Jaggers took office, the sign-up sheet of speakers was not followed in order, the standard procedure that treats all equally based on first signed and longest waiting.
After two of the first three speakers warned of the hazards of the new plan, a council member shuffled between the many pages of sign-ups claiming to be using a "mathematical" system, which he then did not consistently follow. Despite this blatant unfairness, 18 of the 27 speakers (67%) spoke against Aqua Texas.
- We don't know if any speakers for Aqua Texas were not allowed to speak, but we do know many of the best known speakers against Aqua Texas were not called on, including; former Mayor Steve Klepfer, Friends of Blue Hole board chair Andrew Weber, Friends executive director Susan Nenney, former Council Member Bob Dussler, Linda Kaye Rogers, president of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, and numerous others. Several significant speakers against the change were allowed to speak only because some of the council-picked speakers voluntarily relinquished their own spots.
If you were not able to speak Tuesday, or could not attend but want to send your concerns to the Texas Water Development Board on this issue, you can submit your comments to the city via email no later than January 18 to:
- Shawn Cox, City Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org
- and CC: Laura Calcote, Secretary at email@example.com.
Include your contact and address information.
You should also send your comments directly to TWDB:
- Executive Administrator Jeff Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Team 5 Manager Dain Larsen at Dain.Larsen@twdb.texas.gov
Include "Wimberley testimony" in the Subject line. You do not have to make a long statement; just express the side you are on and why.
- CARD Steering Committee
(Note: CARD publications are written and approved by CARD Steering Committee members. We are listed on our About page. Archives and more information are available on this website (hayscard.org)
Watch video of Public Hearing on City of Wimberley website...