Tomball residents frustrated over years of water pressure issues in new Fairway Farms development

Rosie Nguyen Image
Friday, August 18, 2023
Tomball residents frustrated over years of water pressure issues
Residents in Tomball are expressing frustration over years of water issues, leaving them unable to shower, brush their teeth, or flush their toilets.

TOMBALL, Texas (KTRK) -- Just a day after ABC13 aired a story about water pressure issues in Magnolia, several residents living in Tomball reached out about similar problems in their new development. They said they're unable to shower, brush their teeth, or flush their toilets every morning before they go to work or while getting their children to school.

READ MORE: 'There's no water': Magnolia water issues prompt extension to 2022 building moratorium

Dale Zellmer and his wife, Susan, bought a new home in the Fairway Farms development of Tomball three years ago, hoping to eventually retire in their new home. But ever since the beginning, he said they've been experiencing issues with their water pressure.

"The last thing we expected was an issue with water. We noticed an unusual amount of problems with our faucets, where they had a lot of buildup of sediments. When we talked to the local municipal utility district, they would tell us that the water was just hard," he said. "But the problem continued, and it got to the point where we'd have to clean out our faucets a few times a month. We'd have issues with dishwashers and washing machines clogging up."

Zellmer is not the only resident dealing with issues. In fact, ABC13 spoke with several residents who share the same frustrations -- Two of which have children who need to get ready early in the morning for their first day of school, when the water pressure is at its weakest.

"It's been extremely difficult. I have two daughters that have to do their hair in the morning. Then trying to fix their lunch and things like that in the morning. It's been a big struggle brushing their teeth because there's barely any water or no water at all," Raymond Parson said.

"When I tried to turn the water on to wash my hands, of course, there's a trickle, and then we can't flush our toilets. That's the worst. I mean, you might be able to go to school with extra deodorant on if you don't take a shower. But if you can't flush your toilets, that's pretty gross," Lyn Wallin said. "I make my daughter take a shower the night before now."

Residents said they've been voicing their concerns for years with no relief or answers from the Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 480, who owns the distribution lines to the homes, and Aqua Texas, who owns and operates the water plants in the subdivision. They've attended board meetings with MUD 480 and said that Aqua Texas has not provided someone to address their concerns directly.

Additionally, neighbors raised concerns about a water plant that was built in the middle of the subdivision and claimed it came without any notice to residents. Aside from worrying that it will affect surrounding property values, they said their water pressure has not improved since it was erected.

"I've been very disappointed because they should have a fiduciary responsibility to the communities that they serve. They're supposed to provide us with adequate water, which we're paying a fee for. They're supposed to take care of any issues that come up about quality and availability," Zellmer said.

In a statement to ABC13 Wednesday, MUD 480 wrote, "The Board of Directors for the District and its staff are aware of, and responding to, water pressure issues in the Twelve Oaks and Fairway Farms subdivisions. The District receives water wholesale from a third-party supplier, Aqua Texas, Inc., to serve these areas. The District does not own or operate the water plant facilities that serve these areas and relies on Aqua Texas, Inc. to supply water and adequate pressure from its facilities. The District is inspecting its own facilities to confirm that its water distribution lines are not leaking and properly working, which it believes to be the case.

The district is actively investigating ways to increase water pressure to Twelve Oaks and Fairway Farms. In the meantime, the district plans to convene an emergency meeting to help ameliorate water pressure issues by instituting drought response measures and taking other action as appropriate."

Aqua Texas also sent a statement that said in part, "We were alerted to the service issues last week and are working with the MUD to identify the cause of low pressure. We have been helping to look for leaks in the distribution lines, and our next step is to look at the water plants to try to identify the issue. That is happening Wednesday, as we speak.

We are continuing to work with the MUD to identify the issue of the low pressure and will resolve it as quickly as possible."

The developer of the subdivision wrote, "Century Communities has not been involved in the funding, construction, ownership of improvements or operating concerns of the water infrastructure. These responsibilities are with the MUD and Aqua Texas. We understand and regret the situation our homeowners are facing.

On Wednesday, MUD 480 issued a boil water notice for multiple subdivisions, including Fairway Farms, citing the reason as "possible reduced distribution system pressure." The company told ABC13 that "high water use during this extraordinary period of heat and drought are contributing to this condition, but may not be the only cause." Its representative said they will hold a public meeting with its engineering and operations consultants on Aug. 23 at noon to consider any further emergency measures.

Neighbors said they would like better communication from these two agencies in the future and hope to see some improvement soon.

"If this was your family, if you were living through this, or if your mother was living through this, you would expect results. So just treat us the way you would treat your own family," said Wallin. "We don't want to have to move and have to move our daughter to another school district."

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