Cost of water divvied up

By Samantha Smith

All for one and one for all seems to be the motto of partners in the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA), who entered into the association in 2007 “in an effort to secure additional water sources from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.

Kyle, San Marcos and Buda are three members of the HCPUA which will benefit from its Phase 1A pipeline project, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.

But with Buda potentially facing a water shortage before the project is complete, city officials gained insight on how much the city could be charged to buy water from its neighbors to fill the void.

Buda water specialist Brian Lillibridge says that even though the city of Buda has enough water now, it might run out before the Phase 1A pipeline is finished.

Due to the high cost associated with the project, partners from Kyle, San Marcos and Buda entered in an interim water sharing agreement in 2015. The agreement will only allow partners with “excess” water to “achieve some revenue from otherwise unused supplies” by sharing it with partners in need.

It will also help defer construction of the project until “water is needed by the bulk of the partners,” which will save money for all parties concerned.

Lillibridge says that the interim water sharing agreement was designed to have a short shelf life. The agreement could start as early as next year and continue until the Phase 1A project is complete. The water can be shared in any direction from any of the three city partners involved.

Buda’s impending future water needs have been the latest topic in the interim water sharing agreement. San Marcos and Kyle have agreed to allocate half a million gallons of water each for Buda’s use when they need it.

“We absolutely are interested in working with all our partners at HCPUA in order to maximize our use of resources,” Kyle Mayor Pro Tem and HCPUA chairperson David Wilson said.

Wilson added the interim plan is designed to share the excess water among the partners in need while maintaining a “cost neutral” status, so water customers from other cities do not share in the cost.

On Feb. 16, the Buda city council received a presentation on how much Buda should be charged when sharing water from the other two cities.

 Even though San Marcos and Kyle have already purchased the water they intend to share, they have to cover the costs of storing, treating and transporting the water as well.

 HDR Engineering presented a combined system of compensation. Both San Marcos and Kyle city councils have not reviewed the financial projections collected by HDR.

 But each partner city has council members who also serve on the HCPUA board, so every partner had input on the presentation.

 City of San Marcos Director of Public Services Tom Taggart said San Marcos is very excited to be a part of the agreement.

 Taggart said neither Kyle nor San Marcos would seek any additional funds above its costs for the water they share with Buda.

 “It’s a win, win for all of us, so we can move that investment (Phase 1A pipeline) back until we can get more customers,” Taggart said.

Buda city council will review the financial projections of the interim agreement proposed by HDR Engineering.

 It is unknown at this time when Buda intends to take action on the financial projections of the water agreement.

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