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Water district negotiating costs for line removal in ship channel

Posted at 11:04 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 00:25:27-04

A local water district has been put on notice about a water transmission line that needs to be removed. The right-of-way needs to be cleared for the project to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

The district is now scrambling to find the money to do remove the line and the cost may eventually trickle down to the customers.

Nueces County Water Control and Improvement District No. 4 just found out received direction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on April 15. Even though the first phase of the channel improvement project is underway, a recent survey found that obstructions need to be removed for dredging. One of the obstructions is a water line owned by the district, which served customers in the Port Aransas area.

“[It] makes me kind of question the due diligence by the Army Corps of Engineers. They’ve been planning this project for years and they just all of a sudden drop the bomb on the water district,” said John Morris, who lives in Port Aransas.

Morris had even more concerns after learning that he and other water customers may have their rates increased to pay for the removal of that water line.

He told KRIS 6 News, “We’re already getting this whole Port project across the channel jammed down our throat on Harbor Island, and now we’re going to pay increased cost so they can dredge that channel. It just seems wrong.”

However, it will happen if the water district picks up part of the tab. That’s not official just yet.

At their meeting on Thursday, district members voted for manager Mark Young to lead negotiations on a cost sharing agreement with the port. He told KRIS 6 News it would be nice for the port to cover as much of the cost as possible.

Young added that these negotiations may save water district customers in the long run. He said the water line that needs to be removed was built in 1969. Because of its age, Young said replacing it with the port’s financial help would be more cost-effective than reconstructing the line in the event of a rupture or failure.

As far as John Morris is concerned, if the Port of Corpus Christi pays anything less than 100 percent for the line removal, it’s unacceptable.

“That ought to be a project cost, not being passed off on the consumer,” Morris said.

Mark Young says the district is now waiting on an offer from the port. Once he receives it, the district will counter with an offer of its own. Any final decision on a cost sharing agreement would have to come back to the water district for approval.