Wise County neighborhood fed up with water pressure problems

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Residents in a wise county neighborhood say they're fed up with water issues plaguing their homes.

The issue is happening in the Highland Hills Estates community between Decatur and Denton. People who live there say at times the water pressure is so bad there that they can't even start their washing machines.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is now investigating the issue.

The recent drought throttled just about everyone and everything in North Texas. But folks in Highland Hills Estates, a neighborhood of about 150 homes, say their issues go well beyond that. They have issues with water pressure and water restrictions.

“I turn on the sprinkler, and there's not even enough pressure to spray,” resident John Barron said. “It’s really bad.”

“Our lawns have died,” said resident Nick Schneider. “Being that some people have just moved in, they have brand new sod. And that has died.”

The water provider has even threatened to temporarily slow or cut off access if people violate restrictions. Residents say the issues are not just supply. Photos provided to FOX show what people say they have seen at times in the water itself.

“We started bringing in bottled water,” Schneider said. “We started bringing in different detergents to deal with the stains on our clothes.”

The water comes from two wells operated by a private company called Aqua Texas. As the next phase of home construction started going up, residents say the wells started running low.

“The anger comes with the irresponsibility that is coming from Aqua as a whole,” Schneider said.

Last month, Aqua sought to dig a shallow well. But the board of the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, which approves drilling for that area, blocked it after residents expressed concern over sediment and iron problems in shallow wells.

Doug Shaw runs the groundwater district. He says his board did agree at a district meeting to allow Aqua to dig a deeper well, which generally has more water and fewer concerns over quality. But he says a contractor working on behalf of Aqua couldn't say if the company could do that or if there would be a delay.

“He said it may, but he couldn't speak to the financial situation of Aqua,” Shaw said.

At the same meeting, Schneider says the contractor told him it might be a long time.

“They said Aqua Texas did not have that money and it would be at least two years before we were able to get any additional water from the Trinity Aquifer,” Schneider said.

Aqua did not make anyone available to talk with FOX 4 on camera. When asked about the concerns in an email, Aqua said that it is “drilling a new deep well for the Highland Hills Estates community this year." They added that "Aqua decided to drill the deeper well soon after the groundwater district meeting."

Residents we spoke with said they had no clue. To that, Aqua said “We haven't notified customers by letter about plans for the new well. But based on your questions, it sounds like there might be some confusion in the community. I'll see if we can send something out closer to our construction start."

It's welcome news for homeowners frustrated by their experience so far.

“Having a private company seems to have put us up against a wall,” Schneider said.

TCEQ says it has received complaints about water in the neighborhood and has an ongoing investigation into the matter.

Aqua says its water does meet TCEQ requirements.