WaterBridge pays commercial prices for barrels of water

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A summary of the water purchase agreement between WaterBridge Resources, LLC and the City of Fort Stockton has been released.

This agreement states that the City owns existing fresh and brackish water and water infrastructure. The City wishes to restore, connect, and utilize Riley Farms, Stockton Farms, Belding Farms, and Blue Ridge Farms, and to secure more high volume commercial water customers. The agreement informs that WaterBridge will buy water from the City to expand its water supply operations in Pecos and Reeves Counties. Because of this, WaterBridge agrees to restore the water infrastructure on the City’s properties.

According to City Water Attorney Mark Harral, WaterBridge will pay the same as all commercial rate payers inside City limits. This is about $2.86 per 1,000 gallons, which converts to $933 per acre-foot. WaterBridge can purchase up to 18,000 acre-feet per year; this totals to about $16,794,000.

The agreement stipulates:

-WaterBridge and the City agree that the water sales are considered municipal.

-WaterBridge will have the right to purchase all water from Blue Ridge Farms, Stockton Farms or Riley farms, and all brackish water produced from Belding Farms up to a total of 142,500,000 barrels (18,000 acre-feet) of water in a year period.

-WaterBridge will install all metering, fences, backflow prevention devices consistent with Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). A City official will have access to meters.

-WaterBridge will work to avoid producing water from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer. Instead, they will put effort into producing water from the Capitan Reef Complex, Rustler, and Pecos Valley Aquifers as long as it is economically and operationally feasible.

-The City will have the right to use their existing water infrastructure, the new water infrastructure constructed by WaterBridge on City property, and the water infrastructure connecting the City’s properties WaterBridge purchases water from. This is provided that the City won’t have rights to use any other of WaterBridge’s infrastructure or their saltwater infrastructure.

The agreement was discussed again at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 25. The agenda item stated that the Council would act upon corrections and clarifications to the water purchase agreement with WaterBridge. City Attorney Jesse Gonzales stated that the only changes that were made were to clarify the agreement, not to change it. Some dates were more clearly specified, but the agreement remained the same otherwise. The Council voted unanimously to approve the agenda item.

The Council discussed what WaterBridge had planned to do with the water from each well.

“As was stated when they were here, they are using more brackish water than they are freshwater,” said Mayor Chris Alexander. “Anything they’re starting with right now is pretty much in Reeves County. It’s coming out of the Rustler aquifer, which is very brackish, and the Pecos Alluvium aquifer. That’s where they’re going to stay and start off from.”

Harral agreed with this, saying "WaterBridge has committed itself to drilling new brackish water wells into the Rustler formation. In the meantime, WaterBridge will have access to the existing water wells that the City has used for oil and gas purposes, which are also in need of repair at Blue Ridge."

When it was noted that some citizens were worried about high quality water being used for fracking, Harral stated, "The City, as well as all landowners in the Northwest portion of Pecos County, has used low total dissolved solids (TDS) water for fracking purposes for as long as I can remember. This year the City generated $800 thousand to offset water rate increases to our municipal rate payers. All municipal commercial water users pay the same for water regardless of quality."

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