Thursday, October 04, 2018

City Rams Through Wastewater Reuse

The City of San Angelo discussed future water supply in Executive Session on 9-18-18.  Only Council members heard the presentation by hired consultant Scott Hibbs.  With no discussion of the facts or their deliberations Councilman Tommy Thompson made a motion for the city to apply for permits that would allow for discharging treated wastewater into the Concho River for a short distance then pulling that water back out of the river for citizen use.   There was no public comment.

The Water Advisory Board learned of this on 9-24-18, nearly a week after Council acted.  Consultant Scott Hibbs updated the water board as to City Council's planned strategy.  This may explain the poor attendance as four members missed the meeting.  It's hard to see any advising from this board if City Council already acted.  Educated and talented people don't like to be used as a rubber stamp. 

The Water Board did hear from members of the public concerned about the city pursuing groundwater south of San Angelo.  One did ask about the city's arrangement with the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District #1 (TGCWCID).  Water Chief Allison Strube said City Council would address the irrigation contract with TGCWCID but hopes the city could send effluent water to the district during times when the city does not need treated water for citizen use.

The City's broken pipeline to Lake Spence will remain unusable.  There are no plans to fix the intake or pipeline for the city to garner 3,000 acre feet annually.  City staff may wish to remove Lake Spence from the water supply web page after Council passed on a workable Spence strategy.

On 10-2 the city published a video on Council's strategy staring two hired guns, the lead consultant and the city's water rights attorney.  This video mentioned the city's current use of wastewater one time.

For all the discussion of process the video failed to mention City Council decided the top water supply strategy behind closed doors without any public comment.  Continuing the lack of disclosure theme was Water Chief Allison Strube who said the city wanted the water fund balance to be "closer to 75 days cash on hand or greater."

She failed to mention the gusher of funds currently in that account, nearly $9.4 million as of 8-31-18.  That's double the amount needed for citizen water rebates cited by staff in November 2017.

How does all this nondisclosure happen under the leadership of City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Executive Director of Public Works Ricky Dickson?  Why does City Council allow it?

Update 10-14-18:  Another level of nondisclosure arose with SanAngeloLive's piece by Yantis Green on the change.  Green is the former Executive Director of the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District #1.  He left the position after embezzling over $60,000 in public funds.  Author Yantis Green provided no disclosure as his history with the TCGWCID. 

Update 3-23-19:  San Angelo Live Editor in Chief Yantis Green defended his professional ethics as a journalist since 1988.

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