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La Vernia City Council considers water issues

La Vernia City Council considers water issues
GREGORY RIPPS Humberto Ramos of the Canyon Regional Water Authority addresses the La Vernia City Council Jan. 19 during a special meeting to consider the city’s future water requirements.

The La Vernia City Council took no action Jan. 19 at a special meeting to consider and discuss the city’s future water requirements.

Council members heard Humberto Ramos of the Canyon Regional Water Authority make a case for La Vernia to become part of the authority to ensure the city’s future access to water.

Canyon Regional is a state government subdivision consisting of water supply corporations, cities, and districts whose purpose is acquiring, treating, and transporting potable water to the communities served by the government entities within its partnership.

La Vernia has a 30-year agreement with Canyon Regional to supply up to 400 acre-feet of water whenever the city requests it. The water will cost $779 per acre-foot through the end of the year.

Ramos said that after 2015, the cost of the water will be at the market rate, which now is at least $1,200 per acre-foot. He also said Canyon Regional will have difficulty providing 400 acre-feet of water when La Vernia asks for it.

According to Ramos, Canyon Regional will soon begin phase 2 of the Wells Ranch Project, which pumps water from the Carrizo Aquifer in Guadalupe and Gonzales counties. He offered a proposal by which La Vernia would become a partner in Canyon Regional.

“It would be better to be a part of an established project instead of just leasing,” Ramos said. “What you have now is a spot lease.”

“You will uphold the contract,” Councilman Harold Schott said.

In response, Ramos said Canyon Regional might not be able to honor it.

“The problem is, you’re asking us to secure water when you can pay for it,” he continued. “We have to find it, we have to pay first.”

Ramos said that if La Vernia becomes a partner with Canyon Regional, the city would have a “firm supply” of water in the future and would have it at a cheaper price in the long run.

Council members pointed out that the costs of becoming a part of Canyon Regional would begin immediately and that the city would be paying for water that may not be needed.

“That’s a high-dollar insurance policy,” Councilman Jennifer Moczygemba said, after looking at some figures.

Mayor Robert Gregory noted that an agreement with Canyon Regional was only one aspect of the city’s water plan.

“We have a grasp of where we’re going,” he said. “We have other options. We get new propositions every week.”

Council members went into executive session to discuss Ramos’ proposal and related water matters. They emerged without taking action, City Administrator Yvonne Griffin confirmed afterward.

The city council has scheduled a joint workshop with the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission for Jan. 27 beginning at 4:30 p.m. The next regular city council meeting is set for Feb. 12.

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