Irrigation district charges for rights, not water

An Hidalgo County man is paying more than $1,000 for water he doesn't even have access to.

David McEver TMs property was cut off from irrigation water because of a broken line before he bought it in 2005, yet every year he receives a bill from the Delta Lake Irrigation District.

"Why do I have to pay $240 dollars a year if I TMm not using the water? McEver said.

When the district was created a valve was placed every 40 acres, but since then properties have been divided into 20, 10, or even half acre lots.

McEver's nearest valve was built by a former property owner, not the district.

"Districts throughout the valley assess properties. What the assessment does, is it allows you to use the water. It doesn TMt guarantee the water on any certain part of your property, Delta Lake Irrigation District general manger Troy Allen said.

Since McEver didn't get the water he didn't pay.

That is until he received a letter from the irrigation district's lawyer demanding payment.

McEver paid his bill of more than $1,800 in fear of losing his property where he is building a new house.

"I can't afford to have some little irrigation district come and take my land away from me. And that's exactly what they'll do, McEver said.

To access the water McEver will have to lay PVC pipe down for a quarter mile.

"They're telling me if I want irrigation up here I got to fix an underground pipe that goes over to my property, McEver said.

Something the district says they can help with.

"There is a pipeline at the very rear of his property. We could put a valve there for him. It TMs not in the front of his property where he wants it but he could have access to the water, Allen said.Allen says irrigation districts will allow you to opt out of a district if your past bills are all paid, but it can greatly reduce your property value when you give away your rights to the water.