Future area water supplier to examine organizational change

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The public utility agency aiming to supply the cities of San Marcos, Kyle and Buda with a long-term water source is looking into becoming a regional water authority.

The Hays-Caldwell Public Utility Agency board of directors met Aug. 26 to discuss the potential change in light of the 2015 legislative session, during which a so-called cleanup bill for the statutory classification of public utility agencies failed to gain traction.

Kyle City Council Member David Wilson, who chairs the HCPUA board, said it is normal after a legislative session has concluded for the organization to self-assess.

“After any legislative session you have to evaluate, ‘What happened here?’” Wilson said. “What can we do to make our attempt to deliver water to customers better?”

Regulation of public utility agencies, or PUAs, often has statewide implications, but legislation that concerns regional water authorities is overseen only by lawmakers that govern the authority’s service area.

HCPUA Executive Director Graham Moore said in the meeting that political issues surrounding other PUAs in the state could produce legislation that negatively affects the HCPUA.

“I’m just fearful that as more PUAs form … [there are] going to be that many more people interested in working off of one statute,” Moore said. “That’s going to make it more difficult to make changes to [the statute].”

HCPUA staff will investigate the possibility of converting from a PUA to a regional water authority over the next year and aims to make a decision on its future by the summer of 2016.

At the meeting the board approved a financing agreement in connection with state assistance the HCPUA is receiving to construct a pipeline connecting the Kyle water system to Buda’s. The agency is slated to receive $7.4 million in funds from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas. Construction could begin as early as this spring, Moore said.