24
May

Why the WSWSC?

Here is a high level summary of the events leading up to the existence of the Whitewater Springs Water Supply Corporation (WSWSC) and the actions we have taken to acquire and operate the WWS water system on behalf of the residents:

  1. The WWS system was transferred to LCRA in 2003 for $0.00 by Merchants Bank (which owned the system). The bank also gave LCRA $110,000 to defray future costs (new wells, etc.).
  2. In November 2010, LCRA announced that it is divesting itself of our water system along with 28 other water, wastewater and intake barges.These are large systems (i.e. Leander Water Plant, West Lake Hills Wastewater, West Travis County MUD) and small systems (many water systems in Burnet and Llano Counties)
  3. LCRA's initial position was to sell all to one bidder to recover as much of the $300 million that they claim to have invested in the systems and also to stop the monthly loss of approx $300,000 per month to operate the systems (as they have co-mingled funds between systems, valuation of any single system problematic; the one-bidder solution "solves" that problem).
  4. It became rapidly apparent that if the system is sold to a for-profit company, we will pay significant capital recovery costs through our water bills. The estimated amount could be as high as $150.00 per month per household before any charges for water usage. (This kind of experience has been shared by customers whose systems were acquired by Aqua Texas, one of the for-profit companies bidding on the LCRA package. You can fine links to several websites that document some of the stories about water service by Aqua Texas by searching on the term "Aqua Texas reviews.")
  5. Since January, concerned WWS residents have been participating in a "coalition" that includes representatives from a number of the affected systems (municipalities, counties, and communities similar to WWS). After numerous regular meetings and connection with influencers in local and state government as well as the LCRA, this coalition was invited to submit a proposal for the full package of systems. This led to formalizing the group as the Coalition of Central Texas Utilities Development Corporation (UDC), a legal entity with the ability to obtain financing for the package purchase and transact business with LCRA and its representatives. The UDC will serve as a "pass through" entity; upon completion of package purchase, it will sell individual systems to its stakeholders (such as the WSWSC).
  6. LCRA has moved away somewhat from its original "one buyer, one package" position, and in a March 30, 2011 letter from LCRA Chairman Tim Timmerman, we were invited to submit a proposal for acquisition of the WWS system alone.
  7. In order to participate in the UDC proposal and to interact with LCRA and its representatives, three WWS residents (Trish Lambert, Bill Hiers, and Frank Caramanica) formed the WSWSC.This is a non-profit corporation that operates according to state law and that will manage the water system after acquiring it.
  8. We have completed the first step in LCRA's selection process, which is to submit what they call an "indicative bid," a non-binding expression of interest and capability. This will be used to determine if we will be allow to move to the next step, which will include a thorough review of all aspects of the water system and submission of a revised bid that reflects findings from that review. The UDC has submitted a similar bid proposal...so it could be said that we have two horses in the race!
  9. We are currently researching financing options as well as gather information about companies that operated water systems for WSC's such as ours.

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