City Council approves Kyle water rebates

On Jan. 15, Kyle City Council approved a settlement agreement between the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the City of Kyle related to water overpumping in 2011.

Amid drought restrictions in 2011, the city pumped about 51.6 acre-feet, or 16.8 million gallons, more than its permit allowed.

The overpumping resulted in a $46,312 fine from the aquifer authority. Under the plan approved Jan. 15, the city can put that amount toward a program that will give financial credits to customers who implement water conservation measures.

City of Kyle Public Utilities Coordinator Jason Biemer said he is hoping Kyle residents will be able to start participating in the program in February.

"'Fingers crossed for February' is the way to put that," Biemer said. "I would say it would be in the March billing cycle before you would see the actual dispersion of the credits."

To receive the credits, residents must show a receipt for the approved items to the utilities billing department, which will apply the credit to the customer's next bill. Under the plan, customers will receive $35 for low-flow showerheads, $15 for dual-flush conversion valves, $10 for toilet tank flapper repair kits, $5 for faucet aerators and $10 for sprinkler timers.

The money will be taken from the city's water and wastewater utility fund. The city is set to receive a $12,135 refund from the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority for raw water reservation, and the Public Works Department estimated that it would save more than $35,000 in fiscal year 2013 by not taking treated water from the City of San Marcos.

The program will also have an educational component that will distribute brochures and books to Kyle residents.

"We're hoping to do our first round of public outreach and education in March, and that's where we allow folks to come in, visit about the utility, allow them to ask any kind of question," Biemer said. "We're going to try to have some face time with folks to the greatest extent that we can."

In September, Biemer called the events that led to part of the overpumping "an act of God."

On Nov. 10, 2011, a 12-inch main pipe burst beneath the 600 block of Live Oak Street. The pipe flowed until the early morning of Nov. 11, spilling about 1.32 million gallons or four acre-feet of water.

Biemer said the rebates could act as a model for similar programs in the future.

"Since we haven't ever had a system like this in the city, we don't actually know how our customers are going to respond," he said. "Our new municipal water conservation plan has a rebate system in concept."

Biemer said that plan, which is currently unfunded, would provide credits for rainwater capture and installation of vegetation that thrives in arid climates, among other things.

"This will kind of give us an opportunity to see how that's going to work," Biemer said.