Council

Green Tree Estates resident Elva Hernandez speaks at the podium to Denton City Council members during a meeting Friday at City Hall. The City Council voted in favor of declaring a local emergency regarding water services at Green Tree Estates and voted to provide temporary water service and/or resources for a period of 90 days.

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Denton City Council voted in favor Friday of declaring a local emergency regarding the water services at Green Tree Estates and to provide temporary water service and/or resources for a period of 90 days.

The council called a special meeting for Friday to discuss the declaration of emergency and to consider adopting an ordinance canvassing election returns of the bond election. Mayor Chris Watts’ initial declaration of emergency was set to expire this Wednesday, one week after it was announced.

Residents who spoke during the meeting asked the city to approve the 90-day declaration. Council member Paul Meltzer told residents in Spanish that he has no doubt the city will come to a more permanent solution by the time the 90 days is up.

“The period of 90 days is because we think it’s enough to resolve the situation,” Meltzer said in Spanish. “This is within our control. I would like to assure people in general that it’s not necessary to ask for consideration so we can answer to your emergency. Of course we’re going to respond.”

The owner of the water well system that provided water for Green Tree Estates residents planned to shut it off Friday. The small enclave of mobile homes on Swisher Road was annexed into Denton during 2009-10.

The city’s temporary solutions for Green Tree Estates includes providing 55-gallon drums to each residence by Friday and then providing 275-gallon tanks to each residence beginning Monday.

Denton’s director of utilities, Ken Banks, said 14 55-gallon drums for non-potable water storage were delivered to residents Thursday during a meeting with them. He said 14 275-gallon tanks for non-potable water storage will be distributed Monday. These tanks will be refilled by the city regularly, according to a presentation.

Banks said the city spent $8,427.09 as of Friday on the drums, tanks and bottled water, including shipping and transportation for the materials purchased. In total, the city purchased 17 each of the 2-gallon sizes.

Beatriz Martinez and Elva Hernandez, two residents who spoke at the meeting, told council members and staff that some residences would need a second tank because they have more family members. Hernandez said 275 gallons isn’t enough to sustain a household.

“If a person uses 100 gallons [of water] daily, how can I survive with a 275-gallon tank for five people?” Hernandez asked in Spanish. “I wouldn’t last a day.”

Hernandez also asked for the city to refill the 275-gallon tanks three times per week.

The city of Denton is also working to improve the dirt roads near the residences to allow city trucks to pass through to provide residents with water on a regular basis. The road work being done is meant to improve the quality of the area in general, Banks said.

The ordinance brought to the City Council said the funds the city would spend would not exceed $250,000 in the 90-day period. Council member Jesse Davis made a motion to amend that amount to $100,000, saying they can review the amount again at any time if more is needed.

Meltzer said the $250,000 doesn’t obligate the city to spend that much and opposed the amendment.

Council member Deb Armintor initially opposed the amendment, but then said she would vote in favor after Assistant City Attorney Larry Collister clarified that if the vote for the amendment came to a tie, it would fail. Council member Keely Briggs said that vote would push the ordinance to a later meeting.

City staff will develop long-term solution options and present them to the council in December. City Manager Todd Hileman said the meeting would be set for either Dec. 10 or 17.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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