Nearly two months after a workshop between the city of Palmview and the Agua Special Utility District concerning the incoming Agua SUD Wastewater Collection System, both entities signed two interlocal agreements needed for the project.
At the Monday meeting with the utility district, Agua approved interlocal agreements for sanitary sewer connections for vacant lots and for the repaving of streets that were dug up to lay down sewer lines-items Palmview will pay for.
Palmview interim City Manager Leo Olivares told the Agua board of directors the funds raised by both projects would come from a $2.8 million bond the city issued last December that were fully funded as of Tuesday.
The first agreement concerns the connections of nearly 330 vacant lots in the city that council is hoping will end up connecting to the wastewater system to prevent those same streets from being torn up to be connected to the wastewater system once the lots become occupied. The city is investing $950,000 for the project.
“Palmview is funding it and we’re accommodating it and having a separate invoice apart from the Texas Water Development Board for the other connections,” Agua interim Executive Director Eddie Saenz said. “So it’s something that we’ll help them with.”
The agreements came nearly two weeks after the city of Palmview filed a lawsuit against the utility district. As previously reported, Palmview is constructing a water lift station to service areas not included in the project. However, Agua is preventing the project from moving forward, the lawsuit states.
“In January 2018, Agua SUD indicated that it did not need the project since its $42.2 million project financed in part by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) would provide the service by the spring of 2019,” the lawsuit stated. “Agua SUD indicated that a smaller lift station would be acceptable…it requested that the City go through the application process. Then in February, Agua indicated that it did not need the project at all, and that the city should not file an application. La Joya then, and Agua now, have failed to provide public services as contemplated, failed in their duty, and betrayed the public trust.
No mention of the lawsuit was made during open session.
The second agreement Agua approved concerned the street paving projects, an agreement both entities-along with the county-have been working together to fix.
For the last several months, several streets in Palmview that have been dug up as a result of the wastewater project, leaving them damaged. However, contractors are only getting paid to replace the part of the road that is dug up and the TWDB won’t pay for the re-paving of the entire roadway, Saenz said.
“We’re not in the street business, we’re in the utility business,” Saenz said.
Because of this, the city is working with the county to completely repave the roads, absolving Agua of any responsibility for the street paving, Olivares said.
“So once you approve the interlocal, then the city will put in the $1.6 million needed for it and as far as you’re concerned, you’re done.” Olivares said. “Then it’s up to the city and county to make sure the streets are paved.”
Victor Gallardo, a representative from Hidalgo County Precinct 3, informed the board the county wouldn’t be up for discussion on the agreement between the county and Palmview until the next county commissioners meeting in two weeks.
Saenz reminded Olivares that even though Agua will assist the city and county in coordinating the repaving of the street, there will be timing issues once the Agua contractor is done with the streets and turns it over to Agua for repaving, the city and county will only have two weeks to get those streets paved.
“We’ll have our crews out there to make sure all issues are addressed and coordinate with you,” Olivares told the directors. “These are good projects for everyone, we’re committed to expedite it and help you in any way we can.”