Mayor Bill Herring announced at the Regular City Council meeting last Tuesday, August 15, that the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) had not awarded the City of Devine any grant money to help defray the cost of replacing asbestos cement and cast iron water pipes.
All of the $25 million available went to the City of Brady, which has water tainted by radium, a radioactive element.
According to Herring, 33 percent of the City’s water pipes are asbestos cement, with another five to six percent cast iron. The cost to replace both sets of pipes is approximately $9 million dollars.
That figure does not take into account the cost to repair City streets that must be dug up in order to replace the pipes.
The possibility remains of being awarded money from TWDB’s “green money” fund.
“If you improve the environment, which we’re going to do by taking out the asbestos pipes, you can get some money,” Herring said. “Unfortunately, there’s only $1 million in that whole fund, and we rank number eight on this, so by the time they get to us, there won’t be very much money left.”
Members of the City administration also plan to meet in Temple with representatives from the Department of Agriculture to request emergency federal money.
Herring said that if the City has to fund the pipe replacement on its own, it will require passing a bond issue or issuing certificates of obligation.
“If we have to fund this ourselves, you’re looking at 20 years at a huge increase in water bills or huge increase in property taxes,” Herring said.
“Eventually, whatever we do, we’re going to pay for it.”
By Marly Davis