By Anayeli Ruiz
BIG SPRING - Dirty water has been a problem in Big Spring for quite a while now. Just this year, the city received several citations from the state for not being in compliance. Now the city may have finally come up with a solution to fix the water treatment plants. The only problem it could cost you money out of your pocket.
This past June, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality found six violations at the Big Spring Water Treatment Plant and Water Delivery System. Even though the violations were not considered critical and did not affect the quality of the water, the city needs to make changes to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"Big Spring faces the same crisis with regarding water as the rest of Texas does. We're in critical need for water throughout the state. Additionally, the City of Big Spring has a crisis with our water delivery system and our treatment plant both for water and for sewer," Big Spring Mayor, Tommy Duncan, said.
During the last few months, the City of Big Spring did a study to find out what needs to be done to fix their water plants. The results were the following: they need $11 million to rebuild the water treatment plant and the sewer treatment plant.
"It would be on site. We would go in phases and replace old and crumbling equipment and put in new and better systems to ensure we are meeting those permit requirements by the state," Duncan said.
The city of Big Spring has three different options for how to pay for the new water equipment and some of those options could involve money out of your pocket. The first option is to raise the city's property tax rate somewhere between 10 and 15 cents per $100. The second option is to increase water rates another $5 to $7 per customer. The third option is to use part of the 8.5 percent of sales tax that is used by the Economic Development Corporation.
"We have recently increased the water rates to the community and I certainly don't want to take that option. We also recently began to take our property tax rates down bellow a dollar," Duncan said.
Big Spring Mayor Tommy Duncan thinks the best option is to use sales tax that is used by the Big Spring Economic Development Corporation. He believes that they can use a portion of that money to rebuild the water treatment plant and it be at no additional cost to the citizens of Big Spring.
"I'm not sure how the Economic Development Corporation feels about the project. I know that in my mind to attract business in to the community you have to have a viable water treatment and sewer treatment. We do not have that now. I think it's an asset for them to be able to attract new business by having an appropriate water treatment and sewer treatment plant," Duncan said.
On Tuesday night, they will present the project to the City Council and talk about costs and state requirements. In January, they'll talk about how to pay for it and whether to put it to a vote by taxpayers on the May ballot.