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Agua SUD removes board member, moves forward on water treatment project

Sullivan City no longer has representation on the Agua Special Utility District Board of Directors after board members voted to remove one of their own during an Oct. 23 meeting.


At that same meeting, directors were told the Texas Water Development Board was demanding an action plan for a long-delayed project or risk losing its funding.


According to Agua SUD Director Ricardo Ochoa, Francisco “Pancho” Flores, who represented Sullivan City on the board, was removed from office after the utility’s attorney, Frank Garza, informed the board Flores had only attended four out of the last 11 regular Agua SUD meetings this year, Ochoa said.


Under state law a board member can be removed by a vote of the full board if they have attended less than a majority of meetings in a year. Flores has the right to appeal his removal within 30 days after receiving notice of his removal, Ochoa said.

“I knew him and he’s a good friend, but when we’ve tried to contact him he never answers,” Ochoa said Wednesday. “I don’t even know what he’s doing or where he is, I guess he’s just not interested anymore.”


Flores could not be reached for comment as of press time.


Though the board can choose Flores’ replacement, Ochoa said Sullivan City commissioners can recommend candidates.


In other business, Agua SUD Interim General Manager Richard LeFevre informed the board he met with a representative of the TWDB who asked him for an update regarding the long-delayed La Havana Project.


The project, which began in 2013, is intended to build a water line into the Havana Water Treatment Plant, located in the community of La Havana, which was annexed into the city of La Joya earlier this year, said TWDB’s South Texas Regional Manager Mireya Loewe.


In a phone interview Wednesday, Loewe said the TWDB set aside $3.5 million for the project that is in an escrow account waiting to be used for the yet to commence project.


“It’s just money sitting in the account with no one using it,” Loewe said. “We have a fiduciary duty to give that money to a project in the state that needs it and will actually use it.”


Loewe said LeFevre agreed the utility would present an action plan to TWDB within 60 days or risk losing the funds. LeFevre did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him, but Ochoa said he hopes the Havana project finally moves forward.


“Since the project started, we’ve been distracted with other projects or with changes to the board,” Ochoa said, referring to the loss of former General Manager Frank Flores, who stepped down in 2015 and Executive Director Julio Cerda who resigned the following year. The utility’s most recent executive director, Oscar Cancino, resigned in September.


“This project is something the community wants to see and we’re ensuring that it’ll happen,” Ochoa said.

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