‘Community is fed up’: Lometa residents still uneasy about state of water system

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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LOMETA, Texas (KWTX) - Frustrated and concerned is how a lot of residents in one Central Texas community continue to feel about their water.

People around Lometa have been dealing with discolored water since the beginning of the month. It is something residents say they have dealt with on-and-off for years, but this time it seems worse.

The water company Corix, has spent the last few weeks trying to mend the issue. The hope is the situation will be fixed soon.

But, even then, many of Lometa’s residents say they do not trust that the water they are provided is drinkable.

“We need three things to live: we need oxygen, water and food; in that order,” said Bret Cali, an area resident. “If we can’t have clean drinking water in America, what’s the point?”

After receiving numerous complaints about the color of the water at the beginning of the month, Corix President Darrin Barker said, the company found its treatment process was not working as it should.

“After a certain amount of time, especially when you have these very high temperature periods that we’ve seen in the recent six weeks or so, that water will start reacting in the pipe and create a little bit of color,” said Barker.

On top of that, when Corix issued a precautionary boil-water notice a few weeks ago, it did not go out to everybody, which something the company admitted in a letter to its customers.

Now, the company has nearly completed its multi-week process to try and mend the situation as best as it can.

“We are asking for patience,” said Barker. “We do understand that this has been an inconvenience for our customers.”

But for residents like Cali, owner of the Bend General Store, patience is a lot to ask.

“I own a business and I’m having to use bottled water for everything and I have a restaurant,” said Cali.

Even though Corix has told customers the water is safe to drink and a lot of the discoloration has gone away, people, like Joyce and Jerry Nelson, still choose to go with bottled water.

“I have to keep bottled water in my bathroom to brush my teeth, because I’m not putting that dirty sewer-smelling water in my mouth,” said Joyce Nelson.

Her husband echoed the same sentiment, while also airing out his frustration. On top of that, the couple is not sure what options they have since they feel the company is not addressing their complaints appropriately.

“We don’t know what to do,” said Jerry Nelson. “We know the whole community is fed up”

And they are fed up, because they say they have been dealing with water issues for years.

“Our water, for three years, has either smelled like sewage. Or over-chlorinated, stronger than bleach,” said Joyce Nelson.

Corix official said the company has been trying to adjust its system. But because it has 300 miles of pipe serving a rural area, that is hard to do.

On top of that, its water has been in-and-out of compliance with environmental standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for years.

Barker said that is because of the age of the water treatment facility.

“The plant is having a difficult time meeting that level. We’re actually in the process of building a new water treatment plant,” said Barker. “So we have an agreement with (the TCEQ) that says we’re building the plant to implement the new treatment process.”

Right now, the plan is to have the new treatment plan online by spring of next year. As for the current situation, Corix has another week of testing before things can go back to normal.

But that will still take time, and time takes patience, which is something these folks do not have a lot of anymore.

“And I would like to invite anybody from Corix, especially the folks that sent out that letter, to come out to the Bend General Store and have a refreshing glass of their water,” said Cali. “And they can read that note about how clean that water is.”

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