Senate OKs bill to help Blue Mound water customers

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Texas House gave almost unanimous approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow Blue Mound to take over a private water system and operate it as a municipal utility.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, passed 142-1.

It now goes to the Senate, where state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has agreed to sponsor it.

Geren's bill allows Blue Mound to take over the certificate of convenience and necessity needed to operate the water system.

Geren has said he was tired of seeing Blue Mound residents pay much higher water rates than their neighbors in nearby cities.

Blue Mound Mayor Alan Hooks said he has not spoken to Nelson but plans to be in Austin when the Senate debates the bill.

"I'm tickled that [Nelson] has agreed to sponsor the bill," he said.

Geren's bill, written specifically for Blue Mound, says that the city must start condemnation proceedings and that a court has to award Monarch Utilities property to the city before it can get the certificate from the state to operate the water system.

Blue Mound began condemnation proceedings last year.

A Monarch customer in Blue Mound using 5,000 gallons a month pays $141. In nearby Saginaw, the bill for the same amount of water is about $45.

Hooks said the bill's passage by the Legislature will help with the city's condemnation case against Monarch because the judge had questions concerning the transfer of the certificate required by the state to operate the water system.

Representatives of Southwest Water, the parent company of Monarch Utilities, declined to comment Wednesday.

However, Chuck Profilet, vice president of utilities for Southwest Water, has said that when the company bought up small water systems such as the one in Blue Mound, they were poorly maintained and didn't meet environmental standards.

When asked why Monarch customers pay higher rates, Profilet said that investor-owned utilities have one source of revenue whereas city-owned water systems have multiple sources, including taxes.

In an emailed statement, Nelson said: "My constituents are being gouged with exorbitant rates. ... These residents should not be trapped in a monopoly that overcharges them with no way out, and I am ready to move this bill forward in the Senate."

Elizabeth Campbell,

817-390-7696

Twitter: @fwstliz

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