SAWS Seeks to Join LULAC Suit Against EAA
SAWS Board of Trustees voted Aug. 27 to seek intervention in a lawsuit filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) against the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Voting Rights Act.
LULAC asserts that the current method of election of the governing body of the EAA violates constitutional guarantees of equal representation and the rights of minority voters within the geographic limits of the EAA.
While Bexar County’s population is 84 percent of all EAA population, Bexar County residents are represented by only 47 percent of the EAA directors. Bexar County currently only has seven elected representatives on the 15-member EAA board of directors, while Uvalde, Medina, Comal and Hays Counties account for eight members (two per county, and a majority of the board).
Each Bexar County director represents an average of 244,000 people (with some representing as many as 400,000 people), while directors from the other counties may represent as few as 13,000 people.
"Bexar County voters, including minority voters in particular, are grossly underrepresented on the EAA board," said SAWS President/CEO Robert R. Puente. "If the court grants the relief requested by LULAC, minority voters and residents of Bexar County — the great majority of whom are SAWS customers — stand to gain greater representation on the EAA board and a more representative voice in the EAA's affairs."
The overwhelming majority of Bexar County residents are customers of SAWS, and decisions made by the EAA board have wide-ranging impact on SAWS and it customers, including decisions that affect EAA policies and budget, aquifer management fees, selections of general managers, management of groundwater withdrawal permits, water quality regulations, legislative agendas, and the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program.
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