Constant leaks in the utility system maintained by the Carroll Water Company have compromised parts of Mesa Road, prompting the Maypearl Independent School District to temporarily halt bus service along the street.
The issue with the water company only adds to the ongoing list of complaints filed and reported by Maypearl residents to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Superintendent Ritchie Bowling stated the safety of students is of the utmost importance.
“To get a large bus across would be unsafe and possibly the bus would not be able to get through. Our transportation director, Dale Cheek, contacted the county commissioner,” Bowling said. “He went out and took his truck across it and had trouble getting through there. We were advised from that conversation to hold off going through there until the repair is made.”
Bowling stated in his four years with the district, this is the first time there has been a safety issue on Mesa Road that has halted service. Maypearl ISD picks up about 10-15 students from the area.
“We can’t run a few-thousand-pound vehicle in an area where it is going to bottom out. We have to ensure the safety of all our kids on those routes,” Bowling said. “No one wants it to be this way for the kids. We would rather pick them up on the regular route. But we do have to ensure the safety of all these kids on that bus.”
In the interim buses picked up students where Mesa meets Old Buena Vista Road. Bus service was restored to the street on Friday after repairs were made and it was deemed safe by the district.
Ellis County Commissioner Precinct 3 Paul Perry stated his crews are more than willing to do the repairs, but the leaks have to be addressed before work begins.
“The leak has undermined the base of the road. It appears that they have multiple leaks. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality statement says it all — they got to fix their leaks,” Perry said. “We can’t make a repair until those leaks are fixed. It is too damp underneath, and they are continuing to add water to an already wet and water soaked situation.”
Perry stated he spoke with TCEQ officials on Tuesday, who did confirm the presence of chlorine in damaged road areas. The presence of chlorine indicates a water line problem.
“They informed Carroll Water Company on Monday, stating they had 48 hours to complete repairs,” Perry said. “The county does not have enforcement authority, only the state does.”
Perry stated once the leaks are fixed, and it is dry enough, crews will repair the road, but “you cannot pave a lake.”
Carroll Water Company owner Walter Carroll was on a backhoe performing a temporary repair on Tuesday morning. He stated that someone certified would be out to do the permanent repair.
“We are trying to fix it right now. I have been working like daylight to fix all of this,” Carroll said. “We have got all of the leaks fixed right now except for one on Mesa. I have got a man that is supposed to meet me down here on Mesa. We have been trying to fix that leak and now we can.”
Carroll stated the leak is in a three-quarter-inch line that runs from one side of the road to other. He added the holes in the system totaled around 10, and the heavy rains have compounded the issue, but he is working to address them.
In June, residents told the Daily Light they were experiencing ongoing quality issues with the water provided by the Carroll Water Company. These issues have been present in the system for years and still remain unchanged. Some of the problems include cloudy looking and smelly water.
Residents Felipe and Vaffial Sauceda reside across the street from the water line break on Mesa Road. The hole created by the break has made driving on the road very hazardous at times, the two agreed.
“The leak was here about three or four weeks, and now the road bubbled up. All of a sudden we get up one morning and you can’t get around it,” Vaffial said. “People who live out here have been trying to fix it so that people can drive through.”
Vasseial said the issues with the road and the irregular water quality has made a living in their home of 32 years a “nightmare.” The poor water quality has forced Vaffial to buy bottled water, often spending $25-$30 a week.
Felipe shared Vaffial's concerns about the ongoing issues with the water system.
“There is a leak here all of the time somewhere on the road. You will see water going across the road,” Felipe said. “You know how dry it was this summer? We had plenty of water on the road. It washed out a culvert down the road.”
Felipe stated communication is "non-existent" between the water company and its customers outside of what little information is provided on their bills each month.
He added his concern is not just the holes in the road, but the equipment left behind by Carroll poses a danger. There are no markers or barricades to show the location of equipment or where they are working.
Resident Jacob Moore stated the problems with the Carroll Water Company are a regular occurrence.
“We go days without water. Just two weeks ago I think that we went four days without water back-to-back,” Moore said. “As soon as they fix this one it will bust somewhere else. Just a few weeks ago they were trying to fix the pipe with a pipe that is not for pressure.”
Moore took a segment of a pipe he found on the side road where a repair was done. The pipe is stamped with the words, "Not for pressure."
Moore stated the ongoing issues have prompted him to start looking at other places to live.
“We loved it here and wanted our kids to grow up here, but it is like a third world country,” Moore said. “My wife and I grew up here, but nothing is being done. They are still letting this man run a water system out of his garage.”
Kenny Clemons, vice president of Texans of Ellis County for Drinkable Water, is also a Carroll Water Customer. He stated the quality issues between residents and the water company have been a vicious cycle for years.
Clemons also noted TECDW is working with State Sen. Brian Birdwell and Rep. John Wray to get the issue resolved. He wishes they would take a more active role and get a commitment from the representatives to have the laws changed, which would give TCEQ more authority in these matters.
“We are not looking to get the system taken away from Carroll. All we are asking for him is to follow the law,” Clemons said. “He has had numerous violations. He breaks the law, and then he goes and fixes it. Then it is ok for a couple of weeks or months, and then we have another problem again. The band-aid needs to be fixed. You need to pull the band-aid off and put stitches in.”