Sunday, September 30, 2012
As residents' water rates skyrocket, city sells cheap water to frackers
Citizens have been complaining about the absurd practice of the City of Laredo selling water dirt-cheap to fracking companies while continuing to raise the rates of its citizens. Today, thanks to the Laredo Morning Times' reporter Mikaela Rodriguez, the issue is getting some much-needed exposure.
From Sunday's Laredo Morning Times
Local ethics group Voices in Democratic Action voiced concerns over the illegal sale of potable city water to third party companies for fracking use during a regular meeting Saturday.
Hector Farias, VIDA president, said the issue is of concern because the City Code forbids the resale of water bought from the city.
VIDA members said current drought restrictions unfairly constrain citizens’ water usage, while vacuum companies who have permits to buy city water are allowed up to 122,800 gallons at a monthly rate of about $400.
VIDA claims city officials gave the go-ahead to several companies with large tanks to resell potable water to third parties outside the city for oil and gas uses.
City Manager Carlos VIllarReal said while he is aware of certain companies illegally redistributing water, he never authorized them to resell it.
VillarReal said instances of companies making a profit from city water are being investigated, and said the Utilities Department is in the process of determining whether violations occurred and is issuing citations.
“Definitely, it’s a problem and we’re looking into it,” Councilman Alex Perez said.
“People are trying to make money any way they can.”
Perez said the Utilities Department has collected photos and license plate numbers of vehicles stealing water at hydrants or taking it for resale as part of the city’s investigation into the matter.