FULL STORY: Socorro and Water Treatment Plant Go To Court

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 6:23pm

SOCORRO - Another controversy is unfolding in Socorro after a company constructing a wastewater treatment plant files a lawsuit against the city.

The city of Socorro says they never approved construction for an underground pipeline that goes through Socorro farmland. But the water company is fighting back, saying Socorro has no say in their project.

"Socorro's never been afraid of controversy," said city spokesman David Garcia. He said the Horizon Regional Municipal Utility District never got permission to build a pipeline that runs through Socorro.

"It's not about politics, it's really public health and respect," Garcia said.

The pipeline is part of Horizon's water treatment plant, designed to dump treated sewage water into this canal. Garcia says they never gave the OK for the project, so they shut it down.

"The canal can serve, especially in the hot days of summer, as a place for our pets, as a place for children to play when they're not in school, as a place to fish," Garcia said.

The canal is also in a flood zone, surrounded by farmland. But the president of Horizon, Benny Davis, said in a phone interview that the water is perfectly safe.

"It's treated effluent its clear water, it's irrigation quality water," Davis said.

He also said they have a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and don't need permission from Socorro because the city doesn't own the canal. They're now suing Socorro.

"They shouldn't have any jurisdiction over this whatsoever; we've gone to the state authorities," Davis said.

Attorney Yuri Calderon is representing Socorro. He said the city's asking the state to revoke the permit it gave Horizon because they didn't disclose that the pipeline would run through Socorro land, which was already zoned for agriculture uses.

"They're changing a significant use in the land that's being used, it must go through the zoning process," Calderon said.

"How can we possibly control the health interest of all Socorrans?" asked Garcia. "Socorrans deserve better than that"

Now that Socorro and the water company are fighting it out in court, Socorro's attorney says it could take a year before any significant decisions are made.

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