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Friday, April 24, 2015 by Kim Hilsenbeck
Hays commish calls out Buda mayor on Facebook
The cross-county water fight between the Wimberley/Driftwood area and Buda heated up this week as Hays County Commissioner Will Conley used his Facebook page to call out Buda Mayor Todd Ruge in an open letter, calling the city’s testimony at the Texas Capitol on Monday “a disgrace.”
Buda’s Assistant City Manager Brian LaBorde testified against Senate Bill 1440, filed by state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), which would expand the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. If passed, SB 1440 would extend the authority of the aquifer district to cover unprotected water in Hays County.
Doing so would create permitting rules for Houston-based Electro Purification, which currently has seven test wells in what is generally considered an unregulated groundwater area.
Despite testifying against Campbell’s bill, Buda City Council passed a resolution earlier this spring calling for support of protecting groundwater.
Western Hays County residents who oppose the Electro Purification project, which would supply 1.8 billion gallons of water annually to three customers — Buda, Goforth Special Utility District, and a planned development near Mountain City called Anthem — have been extremely vocal.
Over the past few months, the issue has been bubbling in various meetings and public forums, as well as in the social-media sphere. But for the most part, the online dialogue has been between differing factions of citizens.
Monday’s post by Conley opened the door to elected officials using social media to debate — or as Ruge called it, sling mud. Conley’s post is below. Ruge’s response is underneath.
Mayor Todd Ruge, What I witnessed today at the Capitol was a disgrace. Your city team is leading the effort to kill our legislation. Asking for negotiations that would not be based on science or that grandfather your City in anyway is unacceptable. We aren’t going to write into law the contract you decided to sign — that is your problem, not ours. Furthermore, your team is almost completely dismissing the GBRA/City sharing agreement as something that we have only scratched the surface on. However, this has been discussed in great detail with your staff and they already know it is firmer water, better quality water, it’s not at the detriment of other areas of the County and finally is a CHEAPER OPTION for citizens in Buda.
The director of GBRA was there as a resource witness to state these very clear facts. You can go watch the tape if you like. I hope your constituents start asking you some tough questions. Like why was this water need for Buda not sent out for multiple proposals? Why you fight so hard to kill legislation the entire county is supporting? Finally why do you not move on to the better deal that so many of us have fought to get for your citizens?
I would be happy to debate you any time and any place to discuss these issues. You choose. All I ask is that a lot of your citizens attend so they can hear the truth. Get out of my precinct Todd! We don’t want you here! We are for good deals that are good for everyone. Not picking winners and losers in our county.
Commissioner Conley, I’m surprised and puzzled by your post. The City of Buda is working very hard to secure an alternative (water) source and have been very open minded and flexible throughout the process. I think we can both agree that slinging mud won’t help this process along. I want you to know you’re always welcome in Buda and I hope you will attend our upcoming dedication of Bradfield Park which was funded through a matching grant from the county parks bond program.
Hays County Commissioner Will Conley displays a sign for Save Our Wells, a group formed to protest the Electro Purification well project.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District: An entity charged with oversight of a portion the Edwards Aquifer. Groundwater Conservation Districts are established through Texas State legislative approval, under a state law first approved in the 1950s. According to its web site, the BSEACD's charge is "to conserve, protect, and enhance the groundwater resources in its jurisdictional area."
Donna Campbell: State Senator Donna Campbell is a Republican elected in 2012 to the Texas Senate in District 25. She is a doctor who practices emergency medicine.
Electro Purification: A Houston-based water treatment solution company that plans to pump more than 2 million gallons of water per day from Hays County to Buda and Kyle.
Hays County Commissioners Court: The governing body of Hays County, Texas. The Hays County judge serves as chair.
Mayor Todd Ruge: Mayor of Buda.