HOUSTON - Local 2 received an email from a frantic viewer, saying her water and sewer rates are about to go up more than 100 percent. And she says more than a thousand other households will see the same increase.
We put Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis on the case to find out if it's true, and who else might be affected.
Davis discovered the rate hike is very real. It will affect 13 neighborhoods in three different counties. Homeowners in those areas are scrambling to stop the increases that will more than double their water and sewer bills.
Cheryl Hughes is going door to door in her Cotton Creek neighborhood east of Baytown to get signatures to protest the proposed water rate increase.
Aqua Texas bought the water system for Cotton Creek and a dozen other neighborhoods in 2010. The company sent a packet to homeowners explaining that it had to make $3 million in upgrades and improvements. Now Aqua Texas expects the homeowners to help defray those expenses.
It means Hughes' bill will more than double beginning in October, along with the bills of 1,400 other households in Chambers, Liberty and Jefferson counties.
Tracie Fisher lives in Lanai. She is helping to organize and represent the homeowners and she told Local 2 when Aqua Texas' investment is paid off, the company admits homeowners' bills won't go down.
"They'll make back the money that they allege they have spent on upgrades and improvements," Fisher said. "What happens in the future? Does everybody get to buy a Cessna? Go on an exotic hunt? It's just not fair."
Homeowners have been successful in getting the signatures they need to formally protest the rate hike with the state. But Aqua Texas told Local2 the new rates go into effect in October.
If the state overturns the hike, they would then reimburse the homeowners the money the state tells it to. Aqua Texas says the increase is so drastic because there are 1400 customers in the water system.
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