The Board of Directors of the Gulf Coast Water Authority voted 5-1, with Eric Wilson opposed, to approve a resolution opposing legislation sponsored by Senator Joan Huffman to expand the voting membership of the GCWA board to include representatives from Brazoria and Fort Bend counties.
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Representatives of the board’s Industrial Advisory Committee and the Mainland Advisory Committee spoke in opposition to expansion of the board. Representatives of Brazoria and Fort Bend counties were not pleased.
Sugar Land City Council Member Russell Jones, who is currently the non-voting representative from Fort Bend County, accused the board of not living up to its promises.
“There are a number of issues that need to be dealt with and these two counties need representation on this board; and this board previously promised that it would give that representation,” Jones said. “What are you afraid of? I don’t understand what the problem is. All I hear is ‘No , we don’t want to do it. This is a Galveston board and we don’t want you guys here’.”
“It is becoming more and more valuable and it’s becoming more and more contentious who’s getting water,” said Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, who has been a non-voting member of the GCWA board for many years and considers himself a supporter of the board. “At least consider that you are not bringing an adversary from Brazoria County on board, you are bringing an ally; and an ally that has strongly supported this and has worked on it for a number of years.”
Wilson agreed that expansion of the board would be a good thing.
“One of the potential advantages of the addition of two board members is the legislative strength that bringing three counties together in Austin, which is a significant population center in the state of Texas, I think would give us considerable clout in Austin.”
Earlier in the meeting Jones engaged in an exchange with GCWA General Manager Robert Istre, accusing Istre of refusing to meet with him and other Sugar Land officials. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“We need to know why you are trying to oppose everything we are trying to do over there,” Jones said.
Istre said he has been willing to meet with the Sugar Land officials.
“I have offered that many times,” Istre said.
GCWA President R.C. Williams appointed a committee of three board members to review a draft of a letter in response to a letter from Sugar Land City Manager Allen Bogard.
The board voted 5-1, with W.W. Latimer opposed, to engage an engineering firm to evaluate the authority’s real assets and update the authority’s prioritized Capital Improvement Plan.
The board voted unanimously to retain the law firm of Olson & Olson for legal representation after hearing presentations by attorney Bobby Gervais and representatives of three other law firms.
Two items were withdrawn from the agenda and were not considered for action by the board: Purchase of a hydraulic front loader and purchase of a hydraulic excavator from Mustang Caterpillar.
All other agenda items were approved with unanimous votes.