Contract worries: Aqua Texas v. Wimberley

Heated debate over Wimberley’s proposed agreement with Aqua Texas continued earlier this month as community members expressed their concerns with city leaders.

 But city leaders showed a sense of urgency as they pieced together a new term sheet that breaks down a potential agreement with Aqua Texas for the city’s wastewater services. 

Consistent concerns over the agreement include issues with pollution, utility rates and partial transference of the city’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CNN) that grants Wimberley the right to control the city’s sewage utilities, and potential debt for the city.

 Per the proposed agreement, Wimberley would commission Aqua Texas to provide wastewater services for the city and to construct a wastewater treatment facility in the downtown area.

 Community member Christine Middleton said that, “in [her]experience working for a regulated utility [company],” the city would be beholden to the whims of the company, if it was to solely rely on Aqua for services. 

 Many believe that entering an agreement with Aqua Texas would leave Wimberley with a tremendous amount of debt that it would have no control over, and also risk a rise in rate prices, which are only guaranteed for five years with Aqua Texas.

 However, not all citizens present at the meeting were against the agreement. 

“The methods by which wastewater rates are set through the [Public Utilities Commission of Texas] ensured citizens were protected,” Tom Keyser said. 

 As concerns from residents mount, city leaders said negotiations with Aqua Texas have continued to be fruitful. 

Councilmembers Sally Trapp and Gary Barchfeld brought forth, “[a]term sheet put together in good faith and through negotiations” with Aqua Texas representatives that listed both parties’ expectations entering into an agreement.

 Concerning the collection system, Barchfeld said the city would need to begin construction as soon as possible to counter any seepage of effluent into Cypress Creek. This construction would begin prior to the transfer of the CCN, which the city would be responsible for paying. 

 Barchfeld said there will be two phases of the project, which begins when the city constructs a sewer line across Cypress Creek along with a collection system to serve properties on Wimberley Square, Old Kyle Road, RR 12, Oak Dr., and Henson Rd.

Within the second phase, Aqua Texas would construct a collection system within the rest of the service area within three years. That phase would follow the transfer of the CCN to Aqua Texas.

 The city will continue to negotiate with Aqua as the two parties close in on a final proposal that will include a bid number that’s currently being finalized by an engineer from Aqua.

What are the expectations for the Wimberley-Aqua Texas agreement?

  • Aqua Texas would assume responsibility for the costs of filing all necessary documents for the transference of the CCN with PUC.
  • The city will comply with Aqua Texas to ensure the transference goes smoothly.
  • Both parties will assume responsibility for their own legal fees involving any deliberations/potential protest about the agreement.
  • Aqua Texas will remove Blue Hole Regional Park and Deer Creek from the boundaries of the agreement.

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