Riverbend Water Resources District Saves Region $24 Million on Water Storage Fees

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Riverbend Water Resources District (“Riverbend”) received via email this week a formal memorandum from Joseph Redican, Acting Chief of Planning and Policy Division at the Headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) stating the conclusions of a specialized teams formed to provide guidance on the April 16, 1968 End of State Contract known as the “Permanent Contract” between the USACE and the City of Texarkana, Texas.

As memo details, “the team concludes and recognizes the continuing validity of the end-of-state contract to provide permanent water supply storage to the City of Texarkana, Texas, once its terms are met.” Of great significance to the City of Texarkana, Texas and surrounding communities, is that the memo also states that construction costs listed in the contract is definitely $6,198,969, and not a significantly increased amount of $30 million which includes accrued interest since 1968.

Three years ago after a formal request, Steve Mayo, Texarkana’s Regional Water Liaison, made a startling discovery that an email had been sent by someone at the Fort Worth Division of the USACE to the then head of Texarkana Water Utilities, stating that the city owed $28 million for water storage fees. Mayo was particularly interested in this email since he was previously the Mayor of the City of Texarkana, Texas and at that time neither he nor the Texarkana City Council had ever been briefed on the topic.

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“It is pretty disturbing when you find out that some amount is owed, the amount is purportedly millions of dollars, and according to the email, it was not only owed but past due,” said Mayo. “It is a tremendous relief to know that the issue has been clarified by the Corps, the amount owed is that stated in the contract, and it is not due until certain projects are further completed by the Corps.”

The memo further details that the contract cannot be implemented until certain conditions have been met. One of those conditions, the impoundment of Cooper Lake (now Jim Chapman Lake) occurred in 1991. The other condition of conducting environmental and cultural resource surveys and mitigation connected with those surveys has not been met.

Mayo has worked with Riverbend Executive Director/CEO, Liz Fazio Hale, on this issue for the past three years, seeking clarification and assurances from the USACE. Fazio Hale first received a call from the USACE about a week ago, indicating the results of the team of experts. “I exclaimed so loudly when I first heard the news, that my entire staff poured into my office to see what was the matter,” said Fazio Hale. “After three years of running so hard, it is nice to see a win for the City of Texarkana, Texas and Riverbend. With respect to water, it almost feels like we have put our first man on the moon for the region.”

 

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