Tomball City Councilman Mark Stoll has been on a year-long quest to receive answers about a water fee that he claims does not benefit residents of Tomball.
Stoll said that the fees levied by the North Harris County Regional Water Authority have totaled up to $7 million paid by Tomball residents in the past 10-plus years. The authority was created to help local water districts convert from groundwater usage to surface water usage per state law. Residents now pay $1.75 per 1,000 gallons of water pumped.
Stoll said his primary concern is that the regional authority has no plans to convert Tomball to surface water usage in the next two decades.
“When are the city and its residents going to get something from this investment?” Stoll said. “It looks like we are just helping other areas develop.”
Stoll and Councilman Field Hudgens have been reaching out to state legislators about this issue for awhile now. Stoll recently asked his fellow council members to issue a resolution stating the city’s opposition to the fee and present it to legislators.
That effort fell short at a recent council meeting, but they all agreed to set up a committee that will investigate the issue further and consider whether the council should formally oppose the fee.
Council appointed Stoll and Hudgens to the committee, along with residents Barbara Tague and Roy Lackey. They were chosen because of their experience with similar issues.
Stoll said that the fee has concerned him since he began seeing it on his water bill. He said the fee is assessed because the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District passed a law mandating the area convert to surface water to prevent subsidence. Subsidence occurs when groundwater levels get so low that the ground begins to sink.
“I’m not closed-minded about this issue and the committee will now hopefully give me a chance to ask specific questions and learn more,” Stoll said. “I’m not convinced that subsidence is an issue affecting our area, but I may find out otherwise.”
Stoll said there is no timetable for the committee to present its findings and opinions back to council. The committee will set up its agenda and functions at its first meeting Sept. 5.
The committee is not binding and does not fall under the regulations of a government body, but Stoll said he encourages the public to attend. The first meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the conference room at Tomball City Hall.