Jim McMeans statement to City Council 10/20/16
Mayor McCullough and Members of the City Council:
My name is Jim McMeans. My wife and I have owned property here since 1997 and have lived here since 2003. As a retired civil engineer with municipal water and wastewater experience, I became involved with many of the local water discussions in this valley.
Early on I observed that Aqua Texas violated many of the standards set by the state for water and wastewater operators. In Woodcreek North there were frequent sewer overflows that went unrepaired for days. There were waterline leaks that, even when reported, went unrepaired for months. There were multiple complaints about poor service. And to top it all off, Aqua Texas lost, due to system leaks, over 40% of the precious groundwater that it pumped.
In 2010 due to intense community pressure about the excessive water losses, Commissioner Conley convened the Wimberley Valley Water Talks and invited Aqua Texas to participate. I, along with many area water professionals and community leaders, participated in those discussions. After a series of meetings, Aqua Texas agreed to undertake repairs to its water systems in Woodcreek and Woodcreek North to reduce the water losses to less than 15%. Aqua Texas pledged to spend five million dollars over a five-year period to reach that goal.
To date Aqua Texas has only done two projects – one in Woodcreek North and one in the city of Woodcreek. Their groundwater losses still exceed 30% - double the state standard. Their word is worth nothing.
The message here is that Aqua Texas cannot be trusted to do what they pledge to do. They are a part of a giant for-profit corporation that only cares about profit.
Wimberley now has the means and the responsibility to solve the pollution problem in Cypress Creek and the Blanco River caused by outdated and leaking septic systems. The city has known about this problem for over 30 years and finally has developed a plan that is affordable, fair to all future customers, and environmentally acceptable. It is a WIN/WIN for Wimberley and it is ready to build.
A deal with Aqua Texas is a LOSE/LOSE proposition. The city would be subject to higher initial costs, a two-year or more delay, no irrigation water for the Blue Hole Regional Park, and no control over the future costs of wastewater service.
I urge you to unanimously accept the $1,000,000 EDA grant and say NO to Aqua Texas.