Senator Hinojosa’s Response to Rio Grande Guardian Article on Water District No. 3

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The misleading article, “Valley Farmers Send Message to State Lawmakers: Leave McAllen Area Water Districts Alone,” written by Steve Taylor and published in the Rio Grande Guardian supports the existence of Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3.  This makes sense, because the author of the article stayed in a District-owned home rent free for more than 2 years.  In reality, the hit piece serves as a distraction from decades of lack of accountability, transparency, and excess spending on the part of District No. 3 that has increased the cost to McAllen taxpayers.  A State Audit on the District clearly identified that the District has “a lack of financial controls; the absence of a formal, comprehensive master plan; noncompliance with procurement requirements; and noncompliance with certain requirements of the Texas Water Code.”

90% of District No. 3 falls within the City of McAllen.  The parts that don’t fall within the City of McAllen, including the landowners who actually support the bill dissolving District No. 3, will soon be better served by the McAllen Public Utility.  It’s important to remember that one of the farmers who testified against the bill in the Senate doesn’t even own the land where he farms.  In fact, the actual owner of that land supports the bill.  I look forward to those farmers and the City of McAllen getting water with better service at a better price with better management when District 3 no longer exists.

Below are additional responses to some of the statements in the article:


From the article:

Asked to respond to claims by supporters of SB 2185 that most of the raw water pumped out of the Rio Grande by HCWID No. 3 goes to the City of McAllen, Jones said:

“It does serve farmers. They (HCWID No. 3) are still delivering water almost daily to farmers. And the city gets its water piggy-backed for free. The district is not charging them any conveyance from the river to the city’s pump because it is all still being carried by the farmers’ water. It takes a certain amount of water to quote, unquote, prime the pumps from the canals to get the water from the river to the city. None of that is ever deducted from the city’s account and the city is not charged extra for that because they are also pushing water all the time to the farmers.”

Senator Hinojosa’s Response:

This is false.  HCWID charges McAllen for water at a dollar amount that is 80% more than it charges any other district it serves.  The District delivers water to ONLY a handful of farmers, who will be guaranteed protection in SB 2185.  OVER 90% of the District revenue received by the District is from the City of McAllen, not through service to farmers.  Brian Jones’ statements are misleading and false.


From the article:

Reporter Steve Taylor said, “Hinojosa claimed the author of this article is not qualified to report objectively simply because I lived briefly in a property owned by the water district. In exchange for rent, I provided security for the facilities located at a high-drug and migrant traffic area on the border. This commercial agreement was simply a matter of business and does not disqualify me from providing fair journalism. Further, Hinojosa and other members of the Texas legislature consistently take cash donations from business interests to promulgate laws that help those businesses, which would definitely be a conflict under Hinojosa’s implied definition in his note to this reporter.”

Senator Hinojosa’s Response:

Steve Taylor reporter previously stated publicly that he did NOT provide security, just informally “have a pair of eyes and ears there at night” on the property: “Othal (Brand) said it would be great for the Water District to have a pair of eyes and ears there at night, in case their equipment or vehicles got stolen or vandalized,” Taylor wrote. “But, there was no formal agreement for this. I am not a security guard in my spare time.”  Source here.

Further, Steve Taylor has now changed his tune about living for free in a District-owned home.  Previously, he said “for me and my family the key thing was having a safe place to live that offered maximum protection. I put my family first.” Source here. Now he’s saying it was “simply a matter of business.”  These two inconsistencies prove that Steve Taylor should not be writing about HCWID No. 3, because he has no more credibility as a fair and unbiased reporter.


From the article:

Asked to respond to Hinojosa’s claim that farmers will be protected under his legislation, Jones said: “I agree that the bill says that but once it is turned over to a non-electable board, i.e., the city commission, then what is the recourse for the farmers when all of a sudden there are no penalties or provisions, no protections for any of the farmers to say they will continue to receive Ag water? There are no provisions in there for the day that they quit delivering water to the farmers.”

Senator Hinojosa’s Response:

This is false.  The McAllen Public Utility Board is elected separately from the city commission, which is also elected.

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