Water Wars Erupt as Blanco Accuses TWC of Creating July 14 Crisis by Prioritizing Other Customers

water department
City of Blanco Water Department. Facebook image.

Texas Water Company (TWC) says it understands the City of Blanco’s “frustration” over a small pipe break in the utility’s system that allegedly drained the town’s water supply on July 14, forcing officials to implement Stage 6 drought restrictions.

But Larry Jackson, director of Customer Service & Communications, today disputed Monday’s claims by Blanco City Attorney Tim Tuggey that TWC lied about the real cause of the city’s water crisis.

In a demand letter shared on Facebook Monday, Tuggey characterized TWC’s initial claims about the incident as “clearly misleading” and blamed the utility for prioritizing customers who continue to violate drought restrictions by watering their lawns.

According to Tuggey:

  • In the midst of the crisis, TWC demanded Blanco pay to replace the pipeline serving Blanco and other nearby users, a demand the company has made to previous mayors. “In resolutions of those claims, the company also proposed yet again that the city sell its water rights and ownership stake in the jointly owned pipeline and holding tank.”
  • TWC’s actions are a violation of both the law and a long-established memorandum of understanding between the city and the company.
  • TWC should keep a minimum of 500,000 gallons (10 feet) in the Stallion Tank that supplies Blanco “and never again force Blanco to a higher level of restrictions than other communities on the same system.”
  • Formal mediation involving the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is required.

“We have sent this company a strong, unified message, and I am confident we will not again experience another man-made emergency in our water supply,” Blanco said on Facebook.

Last week Blanco Mayor Mike Arnold said he’s confident TWC can indefinitely supply the city with water “at this level or better” and dialed water restrictions back to Stage 3.

However, he warned other mayors and community leaders he plans to make sure they understand the ramifications of their lack of enforcement of water restrictions.

“It was frustrating to learn that while we were implementing severe restrictions and shutting down businesses, other communities on our same system were still watering their lawns with no restrictions being enforced,” Arnold said.

“We believe they now realize the implications of their allocation and enforcement decisions and will do better in the future,” he said about TWC. “Based on their written commitment and proven capacity we will now remain on a restriction level on par with other communities in their network, nothing more severe.”

TWC said it is Blanco’s sole water provider.

On July 14, Blanco Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Thraikill described pipe breaks in TWC’s system as a “frequent occurrence.”

However Larry Jackson, TWC’s director of Customer Service & Communication, said the utility has seen a “vast reduction” in the number of pipe breaks since it completed repairs on a transmission line on FM 306.

“We used to have a main transmission line running along FM 306 that was prone to breaks and subsequent leaks,” he said. “This issue was directly attributable to adding water storage tanks that supplied the north side of Canyon Lake and City of Blanco, including down Highway 281 to Bulverde and Spring Branch.

“Additionally, we added more storage in Mystic Shores and added more capability in Bulverde, putting us in much greater shape in terms of production and storage,” he said.

Despite its name, the company is part of the SJW Group, a water utility processing, distribution, wholesale and retail company based in San Jose, California

SJW plans to release its second-quarter 2023 financial results by July 31.

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