One ETX community boiling over high water bills

One ETX community boiling over high water bills

QUITMAN, TX (KLTV) - Tempers are boiling over high water bills in one East Texas community.

Some residents in the Holiday Village community west of Quitman say their water rates have gotten so high, they are having to choose between paying the bill or buying groceries.

Some of the residents in the community say they are being taken advantage of.

"The water rates are killing us," says Stella Lundy, a resident of Holiday Village.

Last month, Stella and dozens of others received a later stating their water rate was going up by about 10 percent.

"I'm very angry to the point that if I could leave, I would," says Gennie Gomer, resident.

73-year-old Gennie Gomer says she's already having to choose between running water or groceries.

"It was very degrading for somebody that has never been late on their bill in nine years," added Gomer.

Gomer says her bill used to be about $70. Monarch Utilities, a private company comprised of investors, charges a base rate of $115, whether its customers use any water or not.

"The rates are going to go up and I'm probably looking at $147 for 3,000 gallons of water," added Gomer.

Like Gomer, most of these residents are living on a fixed income.

"We feel trapped. Many of us have our life savings in property here. We moved here to retire and we were planning on staying, but now it's getting to the point that we're going to have to look for an alternative," says Jim Doolen, another resident of Holiday Village.

Some are even being forced to put their properties up for sale.

"It never entered my mind that we would be faced with water and sewer prices like this and with these kind of increases. It's becoming impossible," added Doolen.

"This is his lifeline. Without this, he would die. This is the only way he gets his nutrients. At the rate they're going, it's going to be where I can't even afford to provide clean water for my kids and my family and I don't know what I'm going to do," says Julia Syozitaro, a mother with a 7-year-old son on a feeding tube.

This mother and other residents will meet Saturday to plan a protest against Monarch Utilities. If ten percent of the neighborhood complains, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold a hearing to iron out the problem.

At this rate, neighbors say their water will eventually be shut off. Monarch Utilities says their rates are increasing because of the tough economy. They save they've made significant investments in equipment and chemical treatments to keep the water safe for their customers.

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