Mayor Turner releases proposed EPA settlement details to stakeholders

Violations by the thousand.

For more than a decade, the City of Houston has busted federal laws by spilling sewage into waterways, mostly during major rain events.

Last week, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a proposed settlement of those charges – a reckoning that would mandate a $2 billion commitment by Houston taxpayers to improve infrastructure.

When stakeholders asked for details, the mayor insisted on maintaining confidentiality ahead of this week’s up or down vote on the deal by Council.

"I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a citizen, but I don’t think that’s right," said Dan Krueger, a former director of Houston Public Works.

Krueger, who served under three Houston Mayors, appealed to City Leaders for full transparency so utility rate payers know exactly to what they’re committing.

"Houston citizens and further, all Texans and all Americans, have a right to see what various officials of our governmental entities have decided to do," said Krueger.

In a move that caught some by surprise, the mayor agreed.

"I am going to release it to the general public so that they can see it now so it doesn't conflict with Department of Justice or the EPA or the state," said Turner.

While they welcomed access to the full agreement, environmental advocates fear they won’t have time to offer meaningful input if the mayor forces a council vote on the consent decree in a matter of hours.

"We are still waiting to hear whether we will have the chance to review and comment before City Council takes this to a vote," said Jordan Macha, leader of Bayou City Waterkeeper.

Late Tuesday, Council Member Dwight Boykins told FOX 26 he plans to "tag" or delay the settlement vote for a week so that the public can better vet the deal.

The city provided a link to the consent decree document.