Victoria officials, Union Carbide to discuss river use

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Feb. 16, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2014 at 8:17 p.m.

Anyone relying on a river for drinking water knows to pay attention to what's happening upstream.

During the drought, while Victoria officials have maintained city residents' water by replacing what is taken out of the river with groundwater, industries downstream were watching - Union Carbide in particular.

Jerry James, director of the city's intergovernmental relations department, said the company was concerned that the city's groundwater exchange was increasing silica levels and impacting the company's boilers.

James said the city is "not the cause of their problems."

If Victoria City Council approves an agreement Tuesday with the company, which outlines how much chloride, alkalinity, sodium and silica the city can return to the river, Union Carbide will drop a protest on two of the city's water permits and clear the way for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to approve them.

James said the permits allow the city access to more water.

The city is permitted to pull 27,000 acre feet of water from the river each year, including the water from the two permits, but uses about 10,000 annually, he said.

With an additional 11,000 acre feet of groundwater, James said the city is prepared for drought and economic development.

City Councilman Tom Halepaska called the agreement a "mutual solution" between Union Carbide and the city.

The city already tests river water to see if the groundwater exchange is impacting it, which is important to TCEQ and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



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