Relief in sight for Derby water woes
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Ownership issues muddying process
After the only functioning water well in Derby failed in early August leaving families without running water, residents could see relief within the next two weeks.
Frio County Judge Arnulfo Luna signed a declaration of local disaster Saturday, August 6, when the township experienced a failure of the only pump that delivers potable water to over 70 households.
Since the water well failure, county commissioners approved using American Rescue Plan Act funds to dispatch 75,000 gallons of potable water to the small highwayside community.
On Monday, August 29, the court learned that the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the use of grant monies to replace and lower the pump.
According to Frio County 911 Emergency Coordinator Ray Kallio, TWDB has confirmed a company will start work in 11 days.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jose Asuncion participated in a conference call with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Monday morning.
Cari-Michel LaCaille, deputy director of water supply for TCEQ, is spearheading the project at the state level.
“Supply chain has also posed an issued in locating the part,” the commissioner said. “Texas entities have been actively trying to locate a pump for this system and so far have been unsuccessful.”
According to LaCaille, the issue of property ownership caught representatives of TWDB and TCEQ by surprise. Commissioners learned at an August meeting, this was not the first time families of Derby have been without drinking water due to on-going ownership issues left by the dissolution of the Derby Water Supply Corporation.
Dario Guerra, operator of the water system, told commissioners the system is being sued by the county for back taxes. The deputy director told Comm. Asuncion, Guerra owes $27,000 in back taxes.
During the call with the state agencies, Guerra claimed he is the operator of the water well and the owner of the assets; however, he does not own the land the water well sits on.
“Along with the back taxes and ownership issues this makes it much more difficult to sell or transfer to another private operator,” Asuncion said. “Furthermore, the Public Utility Commission lists Dario Guerra’s company as the holder of the certificate of convenience and necessity which typically goes to the owner operator.”
The commissioner said that one family of Derby that has children attending schools in Dilley has reached out to the district for assistance. Dilley ISD has provided a location for the family to shower and has provided towels and toiletries. Any other families living in Derby that need assistance are welcome to contact DISD Superintendent Emilio Castro.