Water help flows to Buda from local cities

By Moses Leos III

The finalization of a water sharing plan between Buda, Kyle and San Marcos not only solves a water problem for Buda in the future, but also delays construction of major water pipeline project. 

The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency board of directors July 27 celebrated the approval of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by all three entities defining Buda’s payment options for shared water.

Graham Moore, HCPUA general manager, said the plan took a “lot of effort” for those on the board “over a number of years.”

“This is a historic event,” Moore said. “This is something that’s a critical cog in our plan.”

Under HCPUA’s MOU, Buda would be charged to recoup debt service and maintenance and operation (M&O) fees levied to Kyle and San Marcos by the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) for delivery of their “excess” surface water.

Buda would be required to pay a first year cost of roughly $418,000 to HCPUA, which would then pay both entities. Volume charges that also apply from each city would be paid. 

Both Kyle and San Marcos would also charge volume rates, while Kyle will assess a wheeling charge whenever water goes through its system.

The costs come as a way to assist Buda in filling a possible future water need prior to the construction of HCPUA’s Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer groundwater project. Phase 1 of HCPUA’s 40-mile pipeline would not be completed until 2023.

San Marcos and Kyle in 2015 each agreed to commit and supply 500,000 gallons per day to Buda during the “interim period.” Kyle committed an additional 1 million gallons per day of its contracted capacity in the Interstate 35 Treated Water Delivery System (TWDS) to Buda.

The water would be transferred via the Phase 1A pipeline and pump station, which connects Kyle and Buda’s water systems. The Phase 1A project is projected to be completed by December 31, 2017.

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said the process HCPUA set up to coordinate all three cities for the agreement went “as smoothly as expected.”

“It laid the groundwork for the future for other cities that run into the same difficulties we have,” Ruge said.

Ruge said the city also anticipated paying more money for the excess water. He said city officials knew obtaining extra water could be “pricey.” He included alternatives such as potentially receiving water from the LCRA, to the dissolved contract between the city and Electro Purification.

“It truly is a commodity,” Ruge said. “It’s supply and demand, I suppose. Moving forward, water is going to be expensive. I’m  not shocked or surprised by the rate structure. We knew that was how it was going to play out.”

Ruge said the city was thankful for its partners to help them “bridge that (water gap) that we needed bridged.”

Ruge said he talked “extensively” with Kyle Mayor Todd Webster, who “got the ball rolling” on entities pitching in to help.

“It’s taken longer than we had hoped, but it’s beneficial for all involved,” Ruge said. “I’m grateful for all partners.”

With the agreement, Buda and all other HCPUA entities delay implementation of the project by five years. According to a HCPUA presentation, interest and royalty savings would exceed $13.7 million annually, with Buda saving $700,000.

“It was a known we would need some help,” Ruge said. “I’m glad we received that help, but also glad to defer those (Carrizo project) costs down the line a bit.”

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