Pay Up or You're Without Water - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/10/02 - Raintree Community near Gilmer

Pay Up or You're Without Water

   "You have to rob Peter to pay Paul," Raintree resident Cynthia Holman said. She's frustrated, searching for answers. "If you're living paycheck to paycheck--chances are something else isn't going to get paid so you can have the luxury of water."

   Also in the same situation but living with Muscular Dystrophy, Lori Wiler has a limited disability income--and can't work to make extra cash. "I only make 540 dollars a month," Lori says. "I have a 12 year old son and I just don't have any extra to pay 400 dollars." She says it would take a year to save that money.

   Raintree's new water company, Pritchet Water Supply wants the residents to pay for their required upgrades. That's new meters, membership fees and hookup charges. This comes after Pritchett bought the existing company. So, customers are told: pay up by July 15th or the fee jumps to $1000. No payment by August, the water is cut off and there's no payment plan. President James Eitel explains, "We understand, it but we're not a finance company," he tells. "It's not heartless, it's just the way the system and the business works."

   We're in the business of selling water and I don't know what else to say. So far all the residents have heard is pay up or else. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission says Pritchetts pricing and fees are not regulated. That's because they're a water supply company, not a utility company--it's at their discretion to bill as they choose.

   The Pritchett Water Company has agreed to have a special board meeting with Raintree residents to discuss options. That meeting will be Monday night, 7 p-m at the Pritchett Water Company at 3670 Highway 155 South. All residents are encouraged by the company to attend.

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