SAWS Plans to Build 142-Mile Vista Ridge Water Pipeline

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) plan to increase water supply for the San Antonio area by building the 142-mile Vista Ridge pipeline, which would transport water from Burleson County to Bexar County.  The project will impact property owners in Burleson County, Lee County, Bastrop County, Caldwell County, Guadalupe County, and Bexar County.

SAWS-map_Vista-Ridge_Outl_415x306Rounded

This controversial pipeline project was originally contracted through Abengoa S.A., a Spanish multinational corporation which has since filed for bankruptcy. Now, Garney Construction, a Kansas City construction company, is expected to purchase Abengoa’s contract for the project. Financing strategies are still being worked out, but there are reports that Garney will borrow $800 million from creditors in order take on the project. SAWS board members are expected to lock-in interest rates during a May 3rd board meeting hoping to assist Garney in securing the necessary loans to take on the project.

The Vista Ridge project has been controversial from its inception, with criticism over necessity and rate increases from several sources. In addition to the Abengoa contract, the project is hampered by litigation concerning payment distribution related to water leases between Blue Water Systems and Metropolitan Water Company, two water suppliers in Milam and Burleson counties. A petition has also been filed with the PUC challenging the rate increases announced by SAWS in order to fund the project. While these obstacles do not seem to be threatening the project, progress has been slow over the last several months. Expect activity to increase throughout the summer as litigation settles and the PUC process is completed. As of now, there is still every indication that the Vista Ridge Pipeline remains a top priority for SAWS. Please contact Luke Ellis, at Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.

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Luke Ellis and Justin Hodge are partners with Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge. Justin heads the firm's eminent domain practice in the Houston office. Luke heads the firm's eminent domain practice in the Austin office. Luke Ellis is widely recognized as one of Texas’s top young lawyers—and one of the top lawyers of any age practicing in the area of eminent domain. Mr. Ellis has broad experience and has enjoyed success in many types of civil litigation. Justin Hodge is a trial lawyer who represents Texas landowners in condemnation, eminent-domain, and real-estate lawsuits. He represents landowners in condemnation proceedings, not the governmental authorities or private companies taking property. Mr. Hodge has handled complex condemnation and eminent-domain cases throughout the State of Texas. If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this blog, we invite you to discuss them with us at jhodge@jmehlaw.com or lellis@jmehlaw.com.

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