Melrose water problems go way beyond broken lines

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

MELROSE, TX (KTRE) - A state inspector familiar with water violations by the Melrose Water Supply is back in the community following a year long investigation. He arrived this afternoon and is meeting with Melrose water authorities. The visit comes after numerous people were without water for several days, boil water notices went out and the school had to shut down.

Today crews spent hours searching miles of line looking for two water leaks. Once discovered, the repair is simple, but the problems for manager Carl Dyes are far from over. The water system is facing a state investigation launched by a couple wanting to build a dream retirement home, but too scared to start construction because of the poor water.

"We complained and complained and we finally said enough is enough," John Makow said. "I got the TCEQ involved in the issue."

Over a year ago the Makows contacted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about their concerns. "Half of the month we are either without water or the pressure is so low we could not use it," Makow described.

"We basically do not have consistent water. We don't have clean water and it's not safe," his wife, Anita said. She is worried about harmful bacteria. Last year doctors suspected a serious infection in Anita was caused by harmful bacteria in the water.

The state fined the Melrose system, but the matter isn't over. A third state report is expected soon. "The violations we had are somewhat normal to one of their investigations," Carl Dyes, the systems water manager for years said.

"No chlorine in the water. Zilch," Makow said in frustration about one of the violations.

"And we're trying to correct them," Dyes insisted. "It all takes time." Dyes is critical of the state agency claiming that they issue fines on meaningless violations because it needs the funding to operation.

The Makows live at the end of the line, at the end of the road. The Makows say they've been told by people you got what you paid for by buying land at the end of the water line. They say they don't go along with that argument. "We're looking at each other and saying, wait a minute. We're paying for good, clean, safe water. I don't think that's what we should be able to expect," Anita said.

In the past five years only five complaints have been lodged against the Melrose water system. This is something the Makows don't understand as they hear frequent complaints from other customers.

Perhaps some are getting more outspoken. Dyes is fairly confident, this week's water outages led to a few more calls. They may have prompted the latest visit from the state inspector as well.

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