Natalia City Council tables East Medina emergency interconnect agreement

Pictured is a concept plan of the City of Natalia’s possible emergency interconnect with the EMCSUD.

The Natalia City Council voted to table consideration of an emergency interconnect agreement with the East Medina County Special Utility District (EMCSUD) at the Regular meeting on Monday, May 15.
Mayor Pro-Tem and Council members Chip Bluemel, Mike Fernandez, Ruben Juarez, and Tommy Ortiz were all present.
The agreement with EMCSUD is part of the City’s USDA loan/grant project to improve the water system. The interconnect would be at the intersection of CR 6715 and FM 463, where both the City and EMCSUD have water mains, and would provide emergency water in case of an emergency with the City’s water wells. $45,000 has been allocated for the interconnects’ construction, and the agreement calls for the City and EMCSUD to split the cost of maintenance, inspections, and repairs.
The interconnect would work both ways, meaning EMCSUD could utilize the City’s water if need be. The water would be measured at a meter, and the buyer would pay the supplier’s current volumetric or wholesale rate at the time of use.
While Fernandez liked the idea, he expressed concern over not knowing what the cost of the water would be until the City was experiencing an emergency when they were forced to buy it.
“Do we have any idea what the rate is?” Fernandez asked. “We don’t know, or what it will be.”
Hernandez said EMCSUD had their rates online, and that they charged per 100 gallons.
Smith suggested speaking to EMCSUD president Timothy Hildenbrand and asking for a specific rate.
“I have talked to him, and he won’t give us a rate,” Hernandez said.
“What if you write it in there that it has to be at the same rate as his current customers?” Smith asked.
Fernandez asked if EMCSUD had a rate for wholesale customers, and Hernandez replied that she didn’t think so.
Bluemel suggested doing the contract in five-year increments in case water rates become too high.
“Well, you don’t want to do that, because we’re going to spend $45,000 to make the connection,” Smith said. “If it’s only good for five years…if they say, ‘we don’t want it anymore,’ we just spent $45,000 for nothing.”
Fernandez suggested making a connection with Benton City Water Supply at Love’s.
“This was a USDA contract, so we had two years to decide what we were going to do,” Hernandez said. “At the time, everybody agreed to do the interconnect with East Medina. So if we were to scratch it out now, I don’t know where that’s going to leave us.”
She added that the preliminary engineering plans were done with an interconnect with East Medina in mind, and that changing could incur further engineering charges.
A Bluemel-Fernandez motion to table the issue until the next Council meeting passed 5-0.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer