Response to editorial
May 01, 2013 | 633 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Talk may be cheap but not the talk emanating from the BDA and your opinion page (April 20). The BDA’s proposal (city pays for everything necessary to clean up BDA’s well, operate the well and transport the water, and pays the BDA $0.62 per 1,000 gallons of water taken) certainly is cheap for the BDA but expensive for the tax/rate payers when compared to available alternatives. Indeed, there is nothing in the BDA proposal that benefits anyone except the BDA.

BDA’s well is in a relatively shallow aquifer (around 600 feet) and is subject to regulation as to withdrawal rates and well spacing. Wells drilled on city-owned property within its city limits can access the same aquifer and would not be regulated. Water quality from both locations will be virtually identical and highly unlikely to require osmosis filtering. Purchase of 1.5 million gallons per day of water from BDA’s well (about its production capacity) would cost the city about $28,290 per month and $339,450 per year, plus production and transportation expenses. Water costs for water produced from city owned wells are zero per year plus production expenses. Then there is the risk of loss of the BDA well, the age and condition of which I know not. But all city-owned wells which once produced our water are now reported to be unusable for producing significant water volume, making the availability of acceptable volumes highly suspect.

The sad fact is that the BDA is broke and living on handouts from the BEIC, notwithstanding that it was “born” with a more than $7 million spoon in its mouth. State law provides organizations such as the BDA with permissible methods for financing its operations, which do not include back door access to taxpayers’ money. Moreover, in my view, selling water (except to tenants at Chase Field) is not within the corporate power of the BDA.

Confusion arises when one considers the cost of the few alternatives the city has. So far as the BDA proposal is concerned, the economic comparison should only be between the BDA well and one well drilled on city property within the city limits.

Why not talk? Better to ask why waste time talking about a clearly flawed proposal when each day talking shortens an already scary time frame. I would think your staff would be busy investigating the relative merits regarding tapping the deeper aquifer, which will require building the reverse osmosis plant, so as to be able to take an informed position on the much more critical issue before us, the proposal to produce water that requires reverse osmosis treatment. Beating BDA’s drum detracts from focus on this critical issue. No amount of talk will alter the facts – the BDA proposal is economically inferior to the available comparable alternative, adding long-term significant costs to tax/rate payers. In my opinion, since Beeville has more than adequate well sites, all wells to produce city water should be drilled within the city limits and on property owned by the city.

Tom Healey
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