Granite Shoals Citizens for Progress

Sewer System

May 1, 2011 | Posted in

On May 14, 2011, GS voters have the chance to decide whether the city should issue bonds for the first phase of the city’s sewer system. The vote will determine the future of Granite Shoals, and will have as much, if not a greater impact on the city than the 2005 election that brought GS professional city managem ent and home rule governance, and which has resulted in five years of remarkable progress. The city is still chipping away at the prior 40 years of deferred maintenance, but this election will determine whether that progress moves steadily forward in a good way, or slows and allows outside forces to determine the city’s future.

The city proposes, through Resolution 396-A, to build the system in 3 phases, due to the expense of building the system. If phase 1 is built, the growth in the city’s tax base will help pay for future phases, and will decrease the need for any tax increases, and hopefully help decrease the overall tax rate.

The three phases are shown here on a map on the city’s website, and the first phase is shown here on a map on the city’s website. The vote on May 14 is whether the city should proceed with Phase 1, which will be required before the city can even consider phases 2 and 3.

New:  The River Cities Tribune endorses the Sewer Bonds for the May 14, 2011 Election. The editorial can be read in full here:  You should read the entire editorial, but here are some key points:

“If Granite Shoals is ever going to grow economically, attract significant retail outlets and support a hospitality industry, the city will need a sewer system.

“Such a system also is better for the environment around Lake LBJ, considering that all homes and businesses in Granite Shoals currently rely on septic systems — which increase the risk for seepage.

“In the past few years, Granite Shoals has started to find an identity. Highland Lakes Elementary School provides an anchor for the community, and the city bought 131 acres where the new City Hall is located. The Andy Roddick Tennis Center is under construction, and a hike and bike trail named for local Olympian Leonel Manzano is in the works.

“But the hotels, restaurants and the retailers won’t come if the city only has septic. Right now there are about 2,000 septic systems in Granite Shoals, which is an inefficient and environmentally costly hazard for a city that wants to grow.

“Granite Shoals needs a sewer system to continue building on the recent improvements, to make sure the water in Lake LBJ stays clean and to keep from losing businesses to other progressive cities in the region.

“Granite Shoals, as the name implies, is built on granite gravel and granite bedrock among rolling hills, all of which contribute to potential seepage from septic tanks into Lake LBJ. That could cause algae blooms and pose significant health issues.

“If the city doesn’t do something now to curb this potential problem, a judge or federal agency eventually will step in and take action.

“Granite Shoals voters now have a chance to choose their own destiny without some bureaucratic agency telling them what to do.

“If Granite Shoals is to have a better financial future and become more than what it is today, a sewer system is a must.”

I encourage you to read the entire editorial, but they also mention some of what the detractors say, such as that the proposed site may be on “property … that belongs to a ranching operation.” But they miss the point, which is that IF the city uses that site, that ranching operation will give the site to the city, and the city will own the site. No strings (the relationship between the city and the landowners does not change if the city takes title to the property and uses the site). But the Tribune also says that this issue, along with the other distracting points raised by some opponents “are details that can be worked out later once the people decide [that a sewer system] is what they want.”

In case you’ve not noticed, EVERY candidate for mayor and city council says GS needs a sewer system — even the chief opponent who is funding and organizing the opposition says he’s for a sewer system. The only thing they can say is that they don’t like the plant location, or perhaps the city’s plan to pay for the system. Those are, as the River Cities Tribune says, issues that can be worked out in the future with additional public input, but the first step is for the bonds to pass so that the city has the funding to do the design and due diligence, then the rest of the bond funds can be used for the system’s first phase according to that design.

Yes, the city has a plan that it has put forward after studying the alternatives for over 5 years, and I believe that plan is the most efficient, most sustainable and has the least financial impact upon the city and its residents than any other we looked at or that has been proposed from the outside. And that’s the plan which the city will start with, but the city’s engineers, staff, council and the public will have the chance to suggest differing alternatives, and as Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “planning is everything, but plans are nothing.” This means that one should always be reviewing and reassessing the plans as a process moves forward. That is what a responsible city government will do, and also one that does listen to its citizens.

The Highland Lakes Business Journal has a commentary from Jackie English to explain and support the sewer system, which can be read here: Highland Lakes Business Journal Opinion on GS Sewer System.


The general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has written Mayor Reilly in strong support of the sewer project in 102910 Ltr from Tom Mason to Frank Reilly_Mayor of City of Granite Shoals.


The city will pay to connect all homes to the system, and will pay to decommission septic tanks. No residential user will pay a charge to connect to the sewer system, and they will not pay any monthly service fees until their home is connected to the operating sewer system. The city’s consultants have estimated that in 2015, when the first phase of the sewer system comes online, that the system’s operational costs would be about $35 per month per connection. For more of an explanation of the sewer system costs, see: What Will the Sewer System Cost?


A one-page version of the brochure that GS Citzens for Progress prepared is here: GS Sewer System Brochure


Finally, while we are reluctant to give any credibility to the false claims of some of the opponents to the sewer system, you may have heard their fear-mongering claims that say that people should vote against the sewer system due to a development agreement the city entered into last year with Barnett Ranches, LLC. That development agreement will continue to exist regardless of the vote on May 14, so it has no relevance to the election, other than the fact that if the bonds are defeated, the city will likely lose the contribution of 40 acres and will still be bound to the agreement. Here is a document that sets forth their claims, and provides a rebuttal to show why each claim is untrue, along with a citation to each source to support the rebuttal: Development Claims and Responses

Those opponents are also saying they’re for a sewer system for Granite Shoals, but just think that the plant should be located on the city’s property, or have “concerns” about the development agreement (see previous paragraph). Don’t be fooled. They are steadfastly opposed to the sewer system and the continued progress of the city. The plant’s location will be finally determined in the design phase of this project, after the bonds have been approved. This election is about whether the bonds are approved, not about the location of the plant, which can be changed later if the city’s engineers or city council decide to change it. It would be irresponsible of the city to set the final location without first having performed environmental and geological surveys on that site, and the city will use part of the bond proceeds to fund these (and other) studies during the design phase. Thus, if all they’re really concerned about is the plant’s location, then they should support the bonds and when that question is before the city council in a year or so, raise their points then. For now it’s just their way of distracting attention from the real facts, as they cannot win their arguments with those facts.

Citizens for Progress