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Water project in jeopardy - Odessa American: News

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Water project in jeopardy

Odessa, Fort Stockton City Councils try to hammer out disagreements

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Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 8:49 pm

The City of Odessa’s water project in Fort Stockton is in jeopardy of falling through if the two council chambers can’t come to an agreement regarding differences in a proposed contract between the two cities despite the fact that Odessa has already spent $817,000 on it.

The project, which could potentially send 50 million gallons of water a day from Fort Stockton to Odessa, was discussed between members of both city councils, along with three members of the Odessa Development Corporation. The meeting was held at Floyd Gwin Park Tuesday evening before the scheduled city council meeting.

For Odessa, the concern is the continuing investment of money into the project and having full rights to the brackish water located inside the Capitan Reef Aquifer. City officials originally planned on drilling from the same aquifer in Ward County, but moved to Fort Stockton after officials claimed the water was of better quality.

For Fort Stockton, their main concern is being able to afford paying their share of the project.

“Our biggest concern is the financing,” Fort Stockton City Manager Raul Rodriguez said. “If we had the money in the bank, yes, absolutely, we would have absolutely done this (project) ourselves.”

The Odessa City Council, which has estimated the total cost of the project to be between $180 and $200 million to build the pipeline from Fort Stockton to Odessa for additional water sources, expressed concerns about funding the entire cost of a second testing well.

The total amount of the project would also include the cost of a desalination plant.

Odessa City Manager Richard Morton said during the meeting the cost of the first monitoring well was about $817,000 and the second well would cost about $3 million.

The Odessa Council voted to table discussing the contract, a move that Morton said put the contract back in the hands of the Fort Stockton City Council.

“The next step is to do a full-blown test well and from Odessa’s point of view, we’re willing to do that if Fort Stockton is willing to share the risk,” Morton said.

Fort Stockton Mayor Bill Lannom said some members in the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District supported the project, but needed proof that the proposed wells would not have a significant impact on the aquifer.

General Manager for the Middle Pecos Groundwater District Paul Weatherby expressed his support for the project, but asked Odessa officials to take the risk in funding the project.

“There’s not a hydrologist in Texas that I know of that can guarantee 50 million or 10 million gallons a day,” Weatherby said. “Mother Nature is the only one who knows that.”

During an executive session meeting with ODC, Morton said the board did not authorize the spending of additional money on the project. If the contract falls through, Morton said the city council would revisit drilling in Ward County and continue to receive updates from the Colorado River Municipal Water District regarding their recent requests for proposals.

“Until they come back with a contract that’s doable to both parties, it’s not going anywhere quick,” Morton said.

THE COUNCIL ALSO:

  • Approved the City Council minutes from the Sept. 10 meeting.
  • Approved accepting a federal grant to provide for partial payment of bulletproof vests.
  • Approved the second and final vote for a video game ordinance.
  • Approved a bid for liquid aluminum sulfate for the Water Treatment Plant.
  • Approved a request by Odessa Affordable Housing for an extension of time to expend 2012 CDBG funds that were allocated for their minor repair program.
  • Approved the renewal of janitorial service contracts.
  • Approved the monthly financial summary report for August 2013.
  • Approved ODC’s annual contracts.
  • Approved the bid to C.I.P. Water and Sewer Line.
  • Held public hearing and then vote on the second and final approval on an ordinance to regulate the parking or storing of certain commercial vehicles and trailers.
  • Held a public hearing and vote on the second and final approval on an regarding the parking of Recreation Vehicles.
  • Approved levying the tax for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
  • Discussed the performance of the city manager, city attorney, city secretary, municipal court judge and associate municipal court judge in executive session.
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