New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 27, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
TUESDAYUnicorn soccer team ready to keep pace with Alamo Heights. See page S.
Comal County Courthouse Annex
10 pages in one section ■ Tuesday, February 27, 1996
Serving Comal County and surrounding areas for more than 144 years * nome of LYNN WILLIAMS
Vol. 144, No. 76Inside
Market Place.............................7-10Birthday wishes from the Herald-Zeftung!
The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung extends birthday wishes to: Lynn Williams, Josh Hayes (22 years), Matthew Durbin, Jonathan Hernandez (two years), and Joan Slaughter.
Mold — 1,280 Elm — trace Cedar — 56 Ash — 23 Mulberry — 6 Grasses — 10 (Pollen measured in parts per cubic meter of air Readings taken yesterday. Information provided by Dr. Frank Hampel.)
Comal River — 238 cubic feet per second, down 4 from yesterday.
Edwards Aquifer Panther Canyon Well — 624.12 feet above sea level, down .01.Dispose off old flags the right way
The Guadalupe Valley American Legion Auxiliary,
Unit #35, is planning a flag retirement ceremony, lf you have an American flag that has gotten tattered, tom, shredded or bleached out and is no longer suitable to be displayed, call Joan at 629-1252. Flags will be picked up and retired properly in an upcoming ceremony.Brown Bag Seminar tonight
The New Braunfels Main Street Design Review Committee will host its third seminar tonight.
Tuesday, Feb. 27, the seminar will be “Signage and Keeping with Concept and Building.” Panel members will include Peter S. Ungamfelter and Katie Fournier of Oasis Signs and Advertising; Harvey Ruppel of Ruppel Signs; Lyden Toye of U.S. Signs; Colyar Mcllheran of Image Graphics, and Johnny Diaz of Sign Arts.
The seminars are free. Bring your brown bag dinner to City Hall at 6:15 p.m. Drink and dessert provided courtesy of the Main Street Design Review Committee.Democrats to moot Tuesday
The Comal County Democrats will meet Tuesday, Feb.
27, at 7 p.m. at Comal Bowl.Help the Community Band get to Germany
Spaghetti and Sousa will be on the program when members of the Comal Community Band perform at a fund-raiser supper and concert Feb. 29 at the Oak Run School.
A spaghetti dinner will be served from 5:30 p m. to 7:30 p.m. and the band will perform from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost is $5 per person, with proceeds going to help the band travel to Germany this summer. The New Braunfels High School Jazz Band will perform from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For information, call Ken McGuire at 625-7728.Wind Ensemble to perform at NBHS
The McMurry University Wind Ensemble will perform Thursday, Feb. 29 at New Braunfels High School at 9:45 a.m. The 45-member ensemble will perform selections including Jager’s Third Suite’ and Fucik’s “Florentiner.’
This newspaper is printed on recycled newsprint
New Junior Miss crowned
The New Braunfels Junior Miss Scholarship Program filled the Civic Center Friday and Saturday.
Top, left, Mindee Praise, hugs her mother, Karon Praise after being named winner.
Above, Courtney Davis, performs her talent routine.
Left, Winners, Mindee Praise • first place, Aleesa Moore - presence and composure and first runner-up, Tyana Michalec -second runner-up, and Jsaelcs Loughlln, third runner-up, Strike a pose after the contest.
Herald/Zeitung photos by MICHAEL DARNALL
Dropping spring flow triggers second stage of water plan
By DENISE DZIUK
Texas is in the middle of an extreme dry period, and the Edwards Aquifer is suffering due to it. On Monday, the Edwards Underground Water District declared Stage ll of its Demand Management Plan, which calls for mandatory reductions in water use. However. New Braunfels Utilities said local users will be encouraged to reduce usage, but not mandated to.
The Edwards District declared Stage I of its DMP exactly two weeks ago. Stage I called for voluntary conservation of IO percent. Stage ll was triggered when spring flow rates at C omal Springs reached 225 cubic feet per second, and this is the first time since the implementation of the DMP in 1989 that Stage ll has been declared. The mandatory reductions will directly affect large water users and suppliers who must cut back pumping by 15 percent. These suppliers include the San Antonio Water System, NBU, and Bexar Metro.
Rick lllgner, general manager for the district, said the suppliers are given a limit on what they can pump. However, he said they are not told how to achieve the reduction because each supplier is different.
“That’s up to them,” he said. “We just give them the target of reduction they have to meet. W hat measures they use to achieve this is up to them.”
lllgner also added that due to the limited powers of the district, the only “recourse” the district can take against users not meeting the mandatory reduction is to go to court and get an injunction. lllgner said this may or may not be practical, and will have to be determined on an individual basis.
Paula DiFonzo, general manager of NBU, said New Braunfels relies on a combination of surface water and aquifer water. She said the majority of water currently being used by NBU is surface water and the amount of aquifer water being used is not enough
Appeals court ends Sierra Club lawsuit
On the same day officials with the Edwards Underground Water District declared mandatory reductions for the Edwards Aquifer, an appeals court eliminated the possibility of a federal takeover of the aquifer.
On Monday, a three-judge panel for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told Senior U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton 111 to end the five-year-old endangered species lawsuit. The judges said the case should be closed because all the remedies sought by the Sierra Club in a suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been met.
The attorney for the Sierra Club said the case was successful in gaining protection for endangered species in Comal Springs and forming an authonty to regulate pumping. The judges said in their ruling that additional suits would have to be filed for additional steps to be taken to protect the springs in New' Braunfels.
“lf the Sierra Club wants additional relief, then it must file a new action,” the judges wrote in their
ruling. They also told Bunton to take the “steps necessary to conclude this case promptly.”
The action of the appeals court prevents a federal takeover of the aquifer, but does not say anything about state control. The Texas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 20 in the suit regarding the constitutionality of the Edwards Aquifer Authonty. lf the court overrules a prev ious distnct court ruling, the EAA will be allowed to go to work. Part of that work would include limiting pumping and brokering wells. The Medina County Underground Water Distnct is challenging the EAA, saying the limiting of pumping is a violation of property nghts.
The Edwards Distnct, which cur-rently oversees the aquifer, announced Monday that spring flow has dropped enough to tngger Stage ll of the Demand Management Plan, which is mandatory reductions. This is the first time this stage has been enacted since the fonnation of the DMP in 1989.‘For now, we will be asking our customers to be water conscious and conserve water.’
— Paula DiFonzo, NBU
to even meet NBU’s limit.
“We’re still on surface water for the most part,” said DiFonzo. “We won’t be calling for mandatory conservation of surface water right now.”
DiFonzo said that although local customers are not being required to cut water usage, she said it is encouraged to help alleviate the problem down the road. DiFonzo said mandatory reductions may be needed in the
City approves water, sewer rate increases
future, but it is hard to tell when that may be. She said water usage, water availability, and needs w ill be looked at to determine future actions.
“For now, we will be asking our customers to be water conscious and conserve water,” DiFonzo said. “We want them to remember that water is our valuable asset.”
DiFonzo said steps customers can take to reduce usage is stop all leaks, keep watering to a minimum plus follow conservation tips, take shorter showers, and turn off the w ater w hen it is not in use. She said not washing cars also helps.
“Those types of things are really quite simple, but they go a long way in conserv ing water,” she said.
By SUSAN FLYNT ENGLAND
New Braunfels Utilities customers will be digging a little deeper into their pockets to get water and to get rid of it after they use it.
The city council gave the final nod for NBU to raise its water and sewer rates last night. City council members voted separately on the water and sewer issues.
NBU water rates will go up 5.75 percent on April I and another 5 percent on Oct. I. NBU structured the rate increases so that those who use the least water will get the least percentage increase, said Paula DiFonzo, NBU general manager.
“For the average residential user — the 10,000 gallon per month user — the water bill will increase about SI per month at the first phase,” DiFonzo said. The second phase will increase the average residential user’s bill about 80 cents, for a total increase of $ 1.80 over the two steps.
Sewer rates are calculated differently than water rates — there are no sewer meters. "We use the lowest three months of the year and average them for the sewer rate,” DiFonzo said. “We felt that was the fairest to the customers.”
Sewer rales will increase 4.25 percent on April I and 4 percent more on Oct. I. That means for the average customer an 85-cent increase in April and an 86-cent increase in Oct. for a total increase of S1.66.
J. Lynn Davis of TXI spoke in favor of the rate increases. “As one of the largest consumers of electricity, we are concerned that electricity is supporting water and sewer," he said.
DiFonzo said that NBU’s capital improvements contained in its five-year plan will affect virtually every NBU customer. She cited several
needs for capital improvements:
• explosive growth in the Highway 46 North area,
• old water lines in the Solms area leaving inadequate fire protection,
• worn out sewer Rio Lift Station w'hich handles two-thirds of NBU’s sewer flow — if it fails, raw sewage would be dumped into the Guadalupe River.
Last night’s vote was the third on the rate increase ordinances. The vote count was the same each time — all council members voted for the increases except Mayor Paul E. Fraser Jr.
Fraser read a lengthy prepared statement explaining his opposition to the rate increases. “We’ve got the cart out front and horse behind,” Fraser said. “I feel that the five-year plan is too aggressive, forcing growth that is not what I’d call the natural order of things.”
The $3.2 million in bonds NBU seeks are tied to the rate increases and the five-year plan. Fraser said. He urged rate-payers to attend the March 11 city council meeting, w hich is city council’s final approval of the bond issue. “The people should be able to vote on the bond issue,” he said. “After all. it is their money.”
Cristina Aguilar-Fnar of the Hispanic Chamber said NBU should have kept ratepayers better informed of the upcoming rate increases and bond issue through bill inserts.
"We did fail in not putting it in the bill, but that won’t happen again.” said Guadalupe Castillo, NBU board president. “I want to invite the public to start joining us. That’s why we moved our meetings to 7 o’clock. They used to be at 4:30.”
The NBU Board of Trustees meets the last Thursday of each month in the NBU Board Room on Main Plaza. The board meets this Thursday at 7 p.m.
City must cut water use by 15 percent
NBU pumping 1.8 million gallons per day more than February average
By SUSAN FLYNT ENGLAND
It’s time now. New Braunfels residents need to start following the city's year-round restrictions on watering their lawns rules they should be following anyway, said City Manager Mike Shands.
“Lawn watering, unless by hand, is prohibited in the city year- round between the hours of IO a m. and 4 p.m. seven days a week.” Shands said.
People who water by hand must use a hand-held hose that has an automatic or manual shut-off v alve, he said.
New Braunfels is already in the second-longest dry period in its history — on its 59th day with no rainfall. And it’s only February.
"We are asking that everyone cut back on optional w ater use so we can get through w hat w e feel could be our hottest, driest period,” Shands said.
The Edwards Underground Water Distnct has already mandated Stage ll of its IXniund Management Plan. At Stage ll, municipal water users (like New Braunfels Utilities) have to cut back the amount they pump from the aquifer by 15 percent
The bottom line for NBU’s customers is that we need to start con
serving now. The av erage home ow ner could cut back 15 percent on w ater use by:
• landscape watering once instead of tw ice a w eek,
• not w ashing cars,
• not hosing patios and driveways clean,
• xeriscaping (using drought-tolerant plants in landscaping).
New Braunfels has planned ahead for its water needs more than other Edwards Aquifer cities. It is the only city with a water treatment plant so surface w ater can be used — in fact the NBU- operated plant provides about 90 percent of the city’s w ater
The other IO percent normally comes from the Edwards Aquifer. New Braunfels usually only relies on aquifer water in the summer months. “There were three afternoons last week in w hich water from the Edwards Aquifer was used to supplement water from the NBU surface water treatment plant,” said Paul DiFonzo, NBU general manager.
"Nonrial usage during this time of year is five to six million gallons of water a day,” she said. New Braunfels has recently been averaging 7.8 to 7.9 million gallons a day.
The Comal Springs flow at an average rate of 285 cubic feet per second (cfs). Right now the current rate of flow has dipped below 225 cfs. That’s the How rate where Stage ll of the EUWD’s Demand Management Plan kicks in
"It’s a long way to summer,” Shands said.Goldberg Report reveals networks’ bias. See Opinion, Page 4.