VIDEO: An April 28 commissioners court discussion of the proposed Mountain City-Kyle agreement on the Anthem subdivision veered into talk of Electro Purification’s other wholesale customers in Hays County, the city of Buda and the Goforth Special Utilities District. Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley tore into Buda leaders for continuing to pursue the pumping from the Middle Trinity Aquifer in Hays County as a municipal water source; County Judge Bert Cobb replied, metaphorically, that he loves all his children, even when they misbehave.
by BRAD ROLLINS
KYLE — The city of Kyle has officially offered to take the troublesome Anthem residential development off the hands of its tiny neighboring municipality, Mountain City.
Under a three-way interlocal agreement being carried by Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, Mountain City would relinquish its claim to future annexation of Anthem by abandoning 243 acres of its extra-territorial jurisdiction. The city of Kyle would then bring Anthem into its orbit during negotiation of a development agreement that typically covers land use and density limits, construction standards, an annexation timetable and, crucially, a plan for providing utilities to serve the prospective development.
As part of the Anthem swap, the Kyle City Council explicitly agreed to facilitate future capital investment in costly extensions of its water and wastewater utility systems. With access to Kyle’s water infrastructure and supply, Anthem presumably would not need 1.3 million gallons per day it had tentatively committed to buy from Electro Purification, the Houston-based company whose plans to withdraw as many as five million gallons a day of groundwater from the Middle Trinity Aquifer has alarmed communities across Hays County.
“The elephant in the room here is that this is very much wrapped up in the Electro Purification and the Trinity Aquifer issue and this would provide a much more stable water source for the potential development out there,” Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said. “This is actually more of a big challenge than it is a big win from our perspective, but I think we can all understand what’s at stake in terms of the region’s groundwater resources.”
To sweeten the deal for Mountain City, the three-year agreement requires Hays County to provide up to $22,000 annually in equipment and labor to maintain Mountain City streets and also requires the city of Kyle to extend its water and wastewater systems to serve Mountain City’s only commercial zone, a 45-acre tract on FM 2770 that cannot be developed without access to utilities.
Mountain City aldermen are expected to consider signing onto the interlocal agreement during their next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, May 11. Mountain City Mayor Pro Tem Phillip Taylor told county commissioners last week that his city’s governing body did not yet have a position on the proposal.
“What you have is a draft agreement, but it is essentially an offer. No one from Mountain City has made any commitment. Mountain City has not agreed to do any of this,” Webster said.
In addition to Anthem, Electro Purification has possible customers in the city of Buda, which has tentatively committed to buying one million gallons per day, and the Goforth Special Utility District, which has tentatively committed to buying three million gallons per day.
Both Buda and Goforth decision makers, like those behind Anthem, are lately the recipients of all manner of persuasion and pressure from Electro Purification’s energetic detractors.
In a post on Buda Mayor Todd Ruge’s Facebook page last month, Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley demanded to know why Buda officials were still pursuing the Electro Purification groundwater. Buda does so in defiance of the Conley’s recommendation that Buda strike a deal with San Marcos or Kyle to buy excess capacity in the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority’s Interstate 35 pipeline.
“I hope your constituents start asking you some tough questions,” Conley wrote. “Like, why was this water need for Buda not sent out for multiple proposals? Why you fight so hard to kill legislation the entire county is supporting? Finally, why do you not move on to the better deal that so many of us have fought to get for your citizens?”
Ruge replied, “I’m surprised and puzzled by your post. The city of Buda is working very hard to secure an alternative work source and have been very open minded and flexible throughout the process. I think we can both agree that slinging mud won’t help this process along.”
In presenting the Kyle-Mountain City-Hays County interlocal agreement in commissioners court last week, Jones said, “We are committed to finding alternative water sources for any of the three [EP customers] that were looking. Mountain City and the city of Kyle have stepped up help in that situation.”