Member cities, North Texas Municipal Water District continue water contract review debate with Public Utility Commission of Texas

The cities of Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson and the North Texas Municipal Water District are still pleading their cases for and against the Public Utility Commission of Texas reviewing the district's water contract with its member cities.

The cities in December originally petitioned the PUCT to review the contract, saying it is not in the public interest. Earlier this month, the NTMWD filed its response with the PUCT, asking for a dismissal of the petition from the four member cities due to a lack of jurisdiction.

Today the four cities have filed another motion to dismiss the NTMWD's motion to dismiss the original filing.

The PUCT is seen as a third party in the matter.

The four member cities' latest response argues the Texas Water Code gives the PUCT jurisdiction over the matter. The cities also stated the petition is not about the contract between member cities and the district, but rather about the “rate for water being charged,” according to the filing.

“Similarly, the petition does not claim that the contract is adverse to the public interest as the [NTMWD] suggests, only that the rate being charged for water is,” said the member cities in response. “The district's attempt to wrongly re-characterize this proceeding is an obvious attempt to avoid addressing the merits of the rate challenge.”

Janet Rummell, public relations and communications officer for the NTMWD, said because the response from the four cities was filed today, the district's attorneys will need to review the latest filing and determine how to proceed.

Within the next week or so, the PUCT will likely issue an order for the next step to be taken, said Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the PUCT. He said the next step could include making a referral to the State Office of Administrative Hearings or asking for clarifying information from the district and four member cities.

The four cities requesting the review are the four largest contributing NTMWD member cities. Other member cities include Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Farmersville, Forney, Princeton, Rockwall, Wylie and Royse City.