Area water agency turns to Lege for name change

The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA) may be making a name change if a proposed bill in the 85th Texas Legislature is approved.

Through Senate Bill 1198 and House Bill 2540, the agency seeks to become the Alliance Regional Water Authority (RWA).

“Being able to convert to the Alliance RWA will allow us to provide water to our sponsor in a more efficient nature,” said Graham Moore, HCPUA executive director.

SB 1198, co-authored by Senators Donna Campbell and Judith Zaffirini, and House Bill 2540, authored by Representative Jason Isaac, are identical bills regarding the conversion of the HCPUA to the Alliance RWA.

HCPUA considered converting after attempting to make changes to Texas’ public utility statute in the 84th legislative session.

“Working as a PUA for last 10 years, there’s been some problems with the statute,” Moore said.

Wanting to address issues with the statute, the HCPUA Board of Directors decided it was best to convert to a regional water authority.

“I sat down and reviewed our options to figure how we wanted to move forward,” Moore said.

In a six-month discussion with HCPUA’s Board of Directors, HCPUA reviewed the possibility of converting to a RWA, considering the pros and cons of the move.

“Finally in August, our board decided that was the path they wanted to see us try for,” Moore said.

It was a 14-month process of reviewing the pros and cons of remaining a PUA, while also looking at the benefits of converting to a RWA, Moore said.

After the board’s decision, HCPUA submitted a bill draft to legislators August 2016.

Converting to the Alliance RWA would accomplish many things, including allowing it to partner with entities other than its current sponsors, which include Kyle, San Marcos, Buda, and the Canyon Creek RWA.

“We could partner with other entities on pipeline capacities or on water supplies that would make projects larger and therefore would bring down the cost of the project for our sponsors,” Moore said. “That’s really one of the main reasons we’re looking to have this conversion.”

Having that option would bring down the cost of overall future water supply for sponsors, Moore said.

HCPUA’s main project involves a proposed 42-mile pipeline that could bring water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Gonzales County to cities along the Intersate 35 corridor.

Moore said he doesn’t know whether the bill is likely to pass, although he’s not aware of any opposition.

“We certainly hope for the best and don’t think anybody should have any questions or real concerns about it, but I’m not going to place odds on whether it’ll pass or not,” Moore said.

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