Mark Harral resigns as city's Water Attorney; cites duties with new grant project


Mark Harral, who has served as the Water Attorney for the City of Fort Stockton for the past five years, submitted his resignation on Thursday, Aug. 8 in a letter to City Manager Frank Rodriguez, Mayor Chris Alexander and the members of the Fort Stockton City Council.

His resignation is effective Aug. 30, 2019.

"I am happy to answer any questions concerning my resignation and want to reassure everyone my departure is solely due to increased time commitments for my businesses and family. Thank you for allowing me to serve our community," Harral wrote in his resignation letter (the full test of which is available through the link to the left).

Reached by phone Friday afternoon after receipt of a copy of his resignation letter, Harral said that his involvement in a recently awarded "National Wind Institute Awarded Grant for Cyberphysical Security Training Class" through Texas Tech University would not permit him to continue as water attorney. (the full test of a letter about the program is available through the link to the left)

The Pioneer is in the process of scheduling an interview with Harral to discuss his time as the city's water attorney.

Attempts to reach City Manager Frank Rodriguez on Friday were not successful.

In his resignation letter, Harral listed some highlights:

"Over the last five years, I have gained incredible experience dealing in multiple matters and accomplished the following:

(1) Recommending the infrastructure rate and placing burden on interstate commerce. By recommending this approach, the City became independently capable of solving a 55-year old decaying 20 inch water line problem. We were able to celebrate this achievement on July 26th, 2019. Before my representation of the City, the City was focused on third parties paying for the main water pipeline. As a homeowner in Fort Stockton, I am extremely happy to know that I do not need to worry about water service for the next 60 years;

(2) Resolving problems of City well fields not being properly permitted with the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District (MPGCD). Though controversial to many people, we were able to properly permit over 4,308 ac-ft a year of water rights on four different well fields (City Yard, Stockton Farms, Belding and Blue Ridge Farms). These additional water rights are critical for the City's long-term growth. We have also documented 3,200 ac-ft a year of water rights that the City should be able to receive in Reeves County at Blue Ridge;

(3) Participating with the Texas Legislature's mandated Water Development Plan. Prior to me joining the City, the City had not participated in the joint planning process with the Texas Water Development Board and Region F Planning Group. This process is implemented every six years. The data and estimates used by the Texas Water Development Board had not been updated in approximately 15-20 years. The City Utility Director and I were able to correct bad assumptions and inaccurate data which impacts the City's ability to receive grants and low interest loans for future upgrades to the City's infrastructure;

(4) Recovering money owed to and securing new agreements concerning_Blue Ridge Farms. I and City staff were able to document and recover significant funds owed to the City relating to oil and gas operations at Blue Ridge. Further, we were able to negotiate new agreements with existing operators and new operators that have significantly benefited the short-term and long-

term interest of our citizens. Over the last three fiscal years, the City budgeted Blue Ridge Farms to generate $2,115,000 but through our efforts we have generated approximately $4,519,000 which can be utilized to support the City's aging infrastructure and buildings.

(5) Securing TDCJ's commitment to pay for theigpgtades to wastewater plant. Through our efforts, the City will recover all cost to install the third holding pond for the TDCJ wastewater plant. The payment term was agreed to by City Staff and the TDCJ to be paid over a 5-year period. This payment structure will offset an approximate $500,000 required to meet TCEQ rules. This process was extremely difficult given the time period of the original installation of the TDCJ prison ..."