I had a brief telephone conversation this afternoon with Mr. Martin Lopez, Manager of the Mesquite mutual domestic water association, which joined in with four other mutual domestic water associations to propose HB 185, creating a Lower Rio Grande Public Waterworks Authority merging the five districts into one. I asked him to clarify the differences between a mutual domestic water association, a waterworks authority, a water and sanitation district, and a municipal water utility. He replied that in terms of powers, a municipal water utility is tops, followed by a water and sanitation district, followed by a waterworks authority, and finally a mutual domestic, on the bottom. The major difference in power between a mutual domestic and an authority is that an authority has bonding capacity. This, he said, is the major reason the five mutual domestics have requested passage of HB 185. Aside from realizing potential economies of scale and seeking common funding sources, the Public Waterworks Authority, if passed, would have bonding capacity (not allowed by mutual domestics), which would give it the autonomy to raise funds on its own for improvements to the system. The Authority would not be competitive in power, say, with the Anthony Water and Sanitation District, which has much broader and more extensive powers, and the Authority could be absorbed at a later date by a municipality.
From comments I received to a blog I did yesterday on HB 185, it appeared there might be some confusion about just what kinds of powers the Authority might acquire and I shared in that confusion. Hopefully, Mr. Lopez's comments help clarify this point.