Recently the Hays County Commissioners Court voted on a very controversial contract that would end the pumping of water from underneath nearby counties. Ending with a 4-1 vote, to walk away from the contract, with Hays County Judge, Bert Cobb casting the only opposition vote.
According to the commissioners, they have spent 1.5 million on a plan to buy the rights to underground water from Lee and Bastrop counties. Included in the 1.5 million already spent, the contract included an option fee or earnest money of $100,000 if the county did not want to renew, or wanted to walk away.
An option fee or earnest money is a deposit of money up front to indicate a sincere intention to complete a transaction. A deposit of earnest money may be required in certain contracts, such as an offer to purchase real estate.
Forestar is a real estate and natural resources company, and according to their website, “we own directly or through ventures approximately 112,000 acres of low basis real estate located in 11 states and 14 markets.” Additionally stated they own “approximately 1.5 million acres of water interests in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia.”
Forestar is currently in a court battle with Lost Pines to procure additional acre-feet of water.
With the contract with Forestar up for renewal, Hays Commissioner Will Conley said Tuesday that the county should no longer entertain the concept of pulling in water from other counties, as this concept has been very contentious throughout Hays County, Central Texas, and the recently ended 84th legislature.
During the courts discussion on this item, they showed the potential hazards, the spending of political capital, and the financial investment at risk with securing large amounts of water in this way.
The Forestar plan is extremely similar to the contract deal between Electro Purification and City of Buda. The Electro Purification deal would allow them to pump and sell as much as 5.3 million gallons per day from Hays County and sell it to the City of Buda.
“This is not a standard I believe many in Hays County are comfortable with,” said Conley,
Hays County is attempting to secure water for its future and plan to spend an additional $400,000 over the next 12 months while doing so.
At this point, Forestar has not transported water into Hays County and the contract never specified how the water would be transferred to Hays County.
Cobb has made procuring water for the future of Hays County a top priority since being elected, and believes that additional options to retain the water needed for the future of Hays County will come at an enormous cost.
By not renewing the deal, “we’re putting our head back in the sand,” said Cobb.
Judge Cobb stated he has had profanities thrown at him and even received death threats over the water deal, and has caused disagreements with other commissioners.
“I’ve known you since I was a snot-nosed kid in your doctor’s office; you treated me for allergies,” Conley told Cobb, during the contract discussion “I know what our differences of opinion have done for our relationship — and that is disappointing.”
The once close Cobb and Conley duo do not agree on the direction that Hays County will need to facilitate to secure the future water supply for Hays County.