Beeville accusing Corpus Christi of charging illegal water rates

A petition filed by the City of Beeville alleges that the City of Corpus Christi has been charging Beeville and other surrounding communities illegal water rates.

CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - A petition filed by the City of Beeville alleges that the City of Corpus Christi has been charging Beeville and other surrounding communities illegal water rates.

That petition was filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

"We wish it hadn't come to this but the City of Corpus Christi has ignored our pleas to be reasonable," said Jack Hamlett, Beeville Interim City Manager.

According to the petition, in 2010 Corpus Christi began charging Beeville and other nearby communities an additional surcharge of five cents per 1,000 gallons hoping to use that money to subsidize two pipeline projects that will have no benefit to Beeville.

Worse, the petition states that Corpus Christi refused to tell Beeville what they planned to do with the funds. It was later that the City of Beeville discovered that Corpus Christi would use the money to fund its Lake Texana and Mary Rhodes II pipeline projects, which will not benefit water customers in Alice, Beeville, Mathis and Three Rivers.

"We had an existing contract and that surcharge was not part of the contract when the original project was built," Hamlett said. "And if we're going to add something like that I would think you'd have to go back and amend the contract."

The Mary Rhodes I and II water pipelines are both online and the City of Corpus Christi said the water they are bringing down from the lower Colorado River and Lake Texana makes up 50-percent of our water.

"The two pipelines mean we take less money from the reservoirs, which means there's more up there for them, so indirectly, I believe they are benefiting," said Mark Van Vleck, Assistant City Manager for the City of Corpus Christi.

However, the City of Beeville said it is now paying an extra $250,000 for water, so it's asking the Public Utility Commission to set a new interim rate and then finally look at a new, more fair rate.

"I'm still hopeful that we can resolve this, but right now we've just been ignored," Hamlett said.

"People have contracts. They disagree on a contract. This is a contract dispute," Van Vleck said.

Hamlett added that the contract between Beeville and Corpus Christi is over 30 years old and has no end date. He feels the contract does need to be updated and that a more fair price be set.

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas is expected to take up the matter over the coming months.

The full petition is included below:

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