Aqua Texas promises permanent fix for water problems near Baytown

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 12:37 AM

HOUSTON— Repeated failures of a water system in Chambers County, just east of Baytown, have roughly 1,500 angry residents looking for safe water and for answers.

“(It’s) very frustrating,” said Roy Calma at his home in the Legends Bay subdivision on FM 3180 just south of Interstate 10. “First of all, the water tastes terrible. We don’t even drink it.”

Calma was responding to the latest boil water notice in his neighborhood.  Three other subdivisions were also affected:  Cotton Creek, Creekside at Cotton Creek and the Cove at Cotton Creek. 

“We’re sick and tired of this. Sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Calma.

“At least four or five months now it has been every three days, either a boil notice, or there’s no water whatsoever,” said Legends Bay neighbor Tiffany Johnson.  “Like they’ve given us every excuse in the world and nothing ever changes.” 

The “they” she refers to is Aqua Texas, the company that operates a well-water system in this corner of Chambers County for roughly 2,000 residents. Aqua Texas provides water, wastewater treatment and other utility services for more than 177,000 customers in 51 counties across Texas.

In a phone conversation, Aqua Texas President Bob Laughman asked to express his “sincere apologies” for the impact on his customers.  But he said they have struggled to update a water system they purchased from Gray Utility a year ago.

“It is very unusual for us to have promised we had taken care of a problem, but then to have another problem come up. And that’s where our credibility is being challenged now.”

Laughman said the system that pumps well water to roughly 2,000 customers in growing subdivisions along FM 3180 operated with few problems through the winter months.  But when demand increased during spring and summer the electrical pumps could not keep up.

Electrical breakers would trip and the system would have to be reset.  And after each shut down and re-start a boil water notice is required.  And Laughman said when adequate electrical equipment was finally installed, the system suffered a rupture in a 12-inch water main.  That was the reason for the most recent water cut-off this week and resulting boil-water notice this week.  Laughman said Aqua Texas is doing everything possible to keep the water system safe, secure and stable.

But the frustration remains for residents who have lost water, and trust in their water system, so many times in just a few months.

“Something, besides my bill, (is) going up every month and I have less water every month. That’s ridiculous,” said Tiffany Johnson when asked about her hope for a permanent solution.

Laughman says the most recent boil water notice was lifted as of noon Thursday.

Aqua Texas is a subsidiary of Aqua America, Inc., a publicly-traded water utility holding company serving 2.8 million residents in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Indiana , Virginia, Maine, Missouri and South Carolina.

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