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What Straus’ Exit Means to Ordinary Texans – Tear down that wall – Vista Ridge!

It deserves to be said that the “business lobby” brought it on themselves. Speaker Joe Straus put the fox (Rep. Lyle Larson) in charge of the henhouse (the House Natural Resources Committee). Larson tried yet another handout to Vista Ridge in the two recent sessions. The only thing that stopped him was a veto from Gov. Greg Abbott himself.

There is little-to-nothing upon which progressives and conservatives can unite. But getting hosed by the Vista Ridge Hose remains one of them. For Vista Ridge is one big bad $3 billion boondoggle ready to be torn down like a Berlin Wall.

On Tuesday, November 7, SAWS will move forward with their water rate hikes for Vista Ridge. But they have yet to tell you (and believe us, we have asked) what happened to the $120 million that went missing for the pipeline when Abengoa (remember them?) filed bankruptcy.

Details on the missing $120 million

In May of 2016, Garney Construction officially took control of Vista Ridge from the former project lead, Abengoa Vista Ridge, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy months earlier. But its new position came at a cost.

Garney Construction assumed the obligation to repay a $120 million bridge loan — a loan that Abengoa had taken to buy pipe, though no pipe ever appeared. According to SAWS, this loan contributed to driving the cost of the pipeline from $844 million to $911 million. At the same time, SAWS reassured ratepayers that they had also saved them nearly $500 million by locking in low interest rates. Instead of those “savings” translating into lower rates for SAWS ratepayers, SAWS is on track for even more rate increases.

These rate increases continue to beg the question — are ratepayers somehow responsible for paying back this missing $120 million loan? If not through the cost of raw groundwater, are ratepayers assuming increased liability, risk, or operations and maintenance costs in the future?

Please call City Hall, 210.207.7107. Ask Mayor Ron Nirenberg and your city council member to get a real answer from SAWS on what happened to the $120 million loan for the Vista Ridge pipeline or no water rate hikes. Until then, they should reject any water rate hikes coming before them on November 9th. Then ask them to get SAWS out of Vista Ridge. Tell them that you don’t want your city involved in water rustling in rural Texas.

Next week, we’re going to tell you things that the “mainstream” media has failed to tell you about the water rustling going on targeting your friends and neighbors in Burleson and Milam counties – the still unwilling “source” communities. We’ll also tell you what it will cost SAWS to exit Vista Ridge as opposed to what continuing this project will cost ratepayers – a ginormous difference.

Urgent: Please share this message and get on the phone to the Mayor & Council to demand they tear down Vista Ridge.

More on this subject next week!

Linda Curtis co-founded Independent Texans, a political action committee for non-aligned voters, in 2001 following the demise of the Reform Party led by Ross Perot. Curtis lives in Bastrop, which shares the aquifer targeted for Vista Ridge pumping.

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