Medina County Water alliance group:

“This alliance is not to take control of your water rights….
This alliance is to make the most use of everybody’s water rights.”

Medina County has joined the Medina County Water Alliance group and the City of Devine was set to discuss joining at a special meeting on press night. The alliance was started by local leaders at East Medina and Yancey Water in an effort to protect water security in Medina County which is growing by leaps and bounds with incoming subdivisions.
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By Anton Riecher
An appeal to the La Coste City Council to reconsider its recent decision not to participate in an alliance to better manage regional water resources is slated for the council’s July 16 regular session.
Scooter Mangold, general manager of the Yancey Water Supply Corporation, reported on continuing efforts to bring La Coste on board during a July 2 meeting of the entities participating in the Medina County Regional Water Alliance
“As far as sign up I believe everybody is agreed with the exception of La Coste and I think it’s on their agenda for July 16,” Mangold said.

Mangold, presiding over the Hondo meeting, spoke in defense of the alliance.
“You know, this alliance is not to take control of your water rights,” Mangold said. “That’s not what this deal is about. This alliance is to make the most use of everybody’s water rights.”
Membership of the alliance includes Yancey Water Supply Corporation, the East Medina County Special Utility District and the Atascosa Rural Water Supply Corporation. Beside Medina County, membership also includes the cities of Hondo, Castroville, Devine, La Coste and Lytle.
However, at its June 18 regular session, the La Coste City Council voted to reject participation in the alliance, citing the initial $3,000 price tag to finance its share of a $50,000 initial feasibility study as too costly.
La Cost Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Johonnett, acting in the absence of Mayor Andrew Keller, said the idea had merit but offered little definite benefit in the future.
“I think it will be a great idea if it ever comes to fruition,” Johonnett said. “But the city is better off buying acre feet of water to keep for ourselves and leasing it (to the alliance) and any other municipalities that might need it.”
In a presentation to the council, Russell Persyn, Medina County’s representative on the Edwards Aquifer Authority, said the primary objective of the alliance is to establish a water storage and recovery system to ensure future water availability for Medina County.
The system would allow participating communities to “bank” their immediate Edwards Aquifer water rights by storing water underground for future use.
City of Devine City Administrator David Jordan, present for the July 2 meeting in Hondo, said that his city council is slated to discuss the issue at its July 9th special session (which is press day). Mangold agreed to meet with Jordan prior to the Devine special session.
“I need questions answered,” Jordan said.
Medina County Judge Keith Lutz reported to the alliance members on action taken by the commissioners’ court the previous day to approve an interlocal cooperation agreement establishing the alliance for joint planning, management and funding of long-term water supply projects in Medina County.
“We did have discussions yesterday and the court voted to join the alliance,” Lutz said.
The commissioners also voted unanimously to pledge $92,000 taken from COVID-19 stimulus funds to help finance the initial budget of the water alliance for the remainder of the 2024 fiscal year.
“We’re pleased to be able to try, hopefully, to get this moving forward,” Lutz said. “We think it’s important that everybody get to this table and start working on the issue.”
Cole Ruiz, an attorney for Lloyd Gosselink representing Yancey Water, said the latest draft of the agreement to form the alliance had been sent to the participating entities the day before. The most substantive change to date is the shift from a general agreement to an agreement with standing under the state’s local cooperation act, he said.
“Essentially, it recognizes that each of these parties are a political subdivision of the state of Texas,” Ruiz said. As such, participation by any private entities is forbidden. Also, future meetings of the alliance will have to abide by the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Open Records Act, both of which governs the conduct of governmental bodies.
Action by the alliance is still subject to the approval of the respective governing bodies that make up its membership, particularly in regard to budgetary matters, Ruiz said.
As such, the agreement has reached its final stage of development, he said.
“We’re not forming a legal entity,” Ruiz said. “Basically, the agreement is a framework for all the parties who are agreeing to form an alliance. It’s a contractual agreement to be able to contract with subcontractors in order to carry out it purpose.”
The pending feasibility study will give the alliance more direction on what needs to be done with regard to water management and development, he said.
When the decision is made to start putting infrastructure in the ground it might make sense to then create a special district authorized to act as a wholesaler of fresh water supply. Taking that step may require legislative approval, Ruiz said.
The next meeting of the water alliance is scheduled for 10 a.m., August 12 at the Medina County Courthouse Annex.