Monday, March 4, 2013

LT Reader provides update on Laredo's water sales

From LaredoTejas' comments section, we have an update from a regular reader who also happens to be a very well-informed, engaged and concerned citizen.  We appreciate your continued civic participation in regards to this crucially important local issue.

From LT's comments:

Max, I know it's been a while since I reported anything on the current water issues facing Laredo. If you'll recall, my specific issues involved the ridiculous amount of money the city was charging these companies (1/3 of 1 cent per gallon) and the fact that it's against Ordinance 31-127 of the city code to resell water for ANY REASON. Attempts on my part for the city to acknowledge these facts have for the most part been ignored, even after presentations to the council that included pictures of vacuum trucks from various companies at different locations hooked up to city fire hydrants for delivery to the oil patch for their fracking operations. Furthermore, it's disturbing that Councilman Perez broke 2 appointments with me to discuss these issues and finally refused to return my calls. Additionally Councilman Vela who has attended our VIDA meetings agreed and told our group that these items would be placed on the agenda for discussion and possible action. This has never happened and I doubt it ever will!
I am happy to report though that the city, either through our efforts or the attention brought to this subject by LMT on information we provided it, changed the current rate from 1/3 of 1 cent per gallon, to 1.2 cents per gallon which is the amount we had suggested long ago. This may not sound like much, but to put in perspective--10,000,000gallons of water at 0.0035 per gallon equals $3,500.00, now at 0.012 is $12,000 dollars. This went into effect in November of 2012 according to the Utilities Dept. spokesman. Quite a difference, and this has been going on since 2007 or 2008 when the Eagle Ford really took off. That's a lot of money the city left on the table. considering the millions of gallons of water it sold for next to nothing during this time frame.
 In a question and answer session with Tomas Rodriguez (Utilities Director) he was reminded of Ordinance 31-127 which prohibits the resale of city water for any reason. He stated he was unaware of any such practices even though his signature appears on several applications submitted for consideration by different vacuum companies stating very clearly that the water was to be used for "gas wells" as well as oilfields and were approved. This information I obtained through a Freedom of Information Request on several of these companies that listed their intended use of water for oil and gas operations.
The mayor, sitting council persons, city manager, utilities director and city attorney are all complicit and aware of this violation and hopefully will be held accountable for turning a blind eye to what is a violation of the City Charter.

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