After Western Lake Estates and Brazos Ridge Estates residents complained about multiple water issue notices from Monarch Utilities/SouthWest Water, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is currently investigating the situation.

“The cancellation notice affects approximately 594 homes in the Western Lake Estates and [Brazos Ridge Estates] subdivisions. On July 11, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required Western Lake Estates water system to issue a boil water notice to inform our customers that due to conditions which have occurred recently in the water system, all customers should boil their water prior to consumption,” according to the cancellation from SouthWest Water Company. “Our system has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore adequate pressure, disinfectant levels and bacteriological quality and has provided TCEQ with testing results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling.”

The public water system is owned by Monarch Utilities and operated by SouthWest Water Company.

Resident Robyn Winter-Sky said she has had to purchase bottled water since she moved to her home in October 2016.

“I have to buy about 40 gallons of bottled water from the Pure Water Station in Weatherford every week because the water is not drinkable and to make matters worse, if I give it to the cats I foster, the cats immediately begin to vomit,” Winter-Sky said. “After going through two and a half to three years of this, we begin getting leak notices, low water pressure notices on a far too frequent basis. The neighbors all started trying to unite online to find someone, anyone, who would bring attention to this issue since TCEQ and [Public Utility Commission] keep pointing the finger at each other and not doing anything. Plus, the water company continues to deny a problem saying all the water quality tests at the tank are fine. Well it’s not our imagination. In fact, last year it was so bad that SWWC actually did a line flush for about eight hours to try to get the crap out of the lines.”

According to the water company, the boil water notice was sent out after lightning struck the plant site and damaged the electrical panels for two wells and a well pump in the subdivisions.

According to TCEQ Media Relations Specialist Brian McGovern, they received a number of complaints on July 2 and July 7-11 alleging no water, low pressure, poor water quality and concerns with the issued stage 2 water restrictions and boil water notice.

“According to the area manager for SouthWest Water, the stage 2 water restriction email was sent in error and the recent low pressure was caused by a few leaks and a malfunctioning valve. The water system was on a boil water notice due to a thunderstorm on July 10. On July 11, the repair was finished and special bacteriological samples were taken. On July 13, the boil water notice was rescinded,” McGovern said. “TCEQ currently has an ongoing investigation.”

Resident Katherine Ballard said her water bill has been outrageous and the bleach smell is bad again.

“My neighbor and I are still watching and taking pictures of our meter because it still seems way off. The water company still has not gotten back to me about the issue of the leak I had based upon their errors. So my water bill is still outrageous,” Ballard said. “The bleach smell is horrible again. They’ve been dumping a lot of bleach to try and pass inspections now that they know they’re being watched. It is just a mess. Honestly, my husband has mentioned selling our home and moving because of this monopoly they have, which wouldn’t be bad if it was a good company. Heck even a decent company, but they’re horrendous.”

Winter-Sky said when she took a shower Sunday night the water seemed to be doing alright,” Winter-Sky said. “But [Monday] morning when I went to do dishes, the chlorine smell was overwhelming again. I am taking a wait-and-see approach, but am continuing to take pictures of the meter readings every morning and every evening so that if there is a spike in the meter readings we will know exactly when it happens, or at least within eight hours.”

McGovern said TCEQ does not have jurisdiction over water rates.

“Citizens have also expressed concerns about their water rate. The TCEQ does not have jurisdiction over utility rate matters,” McGovern said. “The Public Utility Commission has jurisdiction over the duties, functions, programs and activities relating to the utility regulation of water and sewer service, including the issuance and transfer of certificates of convenience and necessity and the determination of rates. Questions concerning rates should be directed to the PUC.”

Monarch Utilities sent a statement to the Weatherford Democrat Monday afternoon in regards to customer complaints.

“Monarch Utilities’ top priority is delivering clean, safe, reliable water to our customers, and we take all customer water quality concerns very seriously. In 2019, we have received approximately 30 total complaints in Western Lake Estates/Brazos Ridge Estates for water pressure, taste, color or smell. In every instance, a technician was dispatched to the customer’s home and performed an onsite investigation,” according to the statement. “If a water quality issue was observed in the water supply, we took corrective action. We strive for our customers to be satisfied with their water and sewer services, as well as with our company’s customer service. We ask that any customer with a question or concern call our customer care center at 866-654-7992.”

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