7 On Your Side: Water rates going up and up - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

7 On Your Side: Water rates going up and up

COFFEE CITY, TX (KLTV) - Some East Texans received the unwelcome news that their utility bills would be increasing not just once, but twice, next year. It's not the first increase these homeowners have seen and they want to know why they keep having to pay more.

Henderson County resident Dwight Crelia says his water bills keep going up, despite his water usage remaining minimal.

"Now we've got a letter that they're trying to go up again, twice, once in January and once in July," says Dwight.

A letter from Monarch Utilities tells Dwight to prepare for a two-phase increase. The letter states, rates are going up 9.9 percent in January
and 4.5 percent in July.

"In my opinion, we overpay right now because we do not have sewer. It's strictly water," says Dwight.

He says just water, for him and his dogs, can run between 40 and 90 dollars a month.

"It's not right that they take advantage of us because we don't have an option. It's either pay their price or not have water," he says.

However, there is a third option. Homeowners can spend thousands of dollars drilling their own wells. That's exactly what Dwight's neighbor, Ron Jeffries, did.

"In the drought in 2011, after receiving water bills in the excess of $370, I decided it was time to put in a well," explains Ron.

It's a well that Ron only uses to water his and his wife's yard and garden. He says the $5,211 dollar investment will have paid for itself by next summer.

"I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. The only regret I have is not drilling it sooner," says Ron.

The rate increases aren't just a concern for the residents living in their Brierwood Bay subdivision in Henderson County. Monarch utility customers across the state, including those in Wood, Smith, Van Zandt and Tyler counties are also seeing their rates go up.

After reaching out to the water company Monday, about that 14.4 percent increase, they told us their own study actually supported them raising their rates 44 percent, but they're not doing that for the customer's sake. They say the increases are, in part, due to a $3.5 million investment in equipment improvements. The water company also says they're paying more for wholesale water than before.

As far as Dwight's accusation regarding their water-monopoly? The water company ignored that question.

To read the entire statement from the president of Monarch Utilities, click here.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.
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