LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — Rebecca Perry spends a lot of time cleaning her Lakeway home.
“Just solid dust,” she said after running her hand along a piece of furniture. “It’s a constant, constant thing. “
The 74-year-old is pretty sure it has to do with the cut-out holes in the drywall in just about every room in her house. In her bedroom, there are 10 holes cut into the walls and ceiling. She counted 38 throughout the home.
“When the heater is turned on, when the air conditioner is turned on, you can stand back and just see a cloud of dust that just floats through the air,” the retired truck driver said.
Perry said she had the plumbing replaced in her home because the plumbing equipment installed when the house was built is now recalled.
The project was finished in late September, but Perry can’t have the holes repaired until after the work is inspected by her water provider, Travis County Water Control and Improvement District No. 17, or WCID 17.
“It’s been six weeks and I’m still waiting for an inspection,” she said.
Perry said she couldn’t get updates because the district stopped responding to her calls.
“Ten, about 10,” she said when KXAN Investigator Mike Rush asked her how many unanswered messages she’d left. She said some neighbors have similar stories.
“I have a neighbor who’s going through chemo right now, they’re in their 80s. Her husband’s taking care of her,” she said. “He calls me two, three, four times a day wanting to know what’s going on. He’s left messages and he even went down to the water company and he said he couldn’t get ahold of anybody.”
And then there’s Bob Castellitto, who lives a few doors down from Perry.
“I don’t know if I can say, I’m getting pissed off,” he said.
Castellitto said he’s been waiting for his inspection for just as long as Perry. He’s anxious to have more than 30 holes in his house repaired.
“I clean the house every day and I still find stuff on the floor,” he said. “So, I don’t know if I’m inhaling that or what.”
The company that did the work, Aqueduct Plumbing, told KXAN it was taking WCID 17 weeks to inspect six homes the plumbers re-piped in the neighborhood.
Aqueduct said it typically takes three to four days from permit application to project completion on jobs they do in other areas.
A spokesperson for WCID 17 told KXAN Investigates the district is transitioning to a streamlined software system for permit and licensing applications, which the district says will speed up the process.
While the spokesperson said the conversion caused a slight delay with progress on Perry’s home, in a statement, WCID 17 General Manager Jason Homan wrote Aqueduct Plumbing caused significant delays on Perry and her neighbors’ homes because the district said plumbers started the work before applying for plumbing permits.
An Aqueduct spokesperson said they did apply for permits beforehand but because of what they consider the “unprecedented” amount of time it took WCID 17 to sign off on them, plumbers mistakenly started work before permits were approved.
The Aqueduct spokesperson provided KXAN Investigates with emails between Aqueduct and the district it believes show WCID 17 caused slowdowns by not responding to inquiries in a timely fashion and failing to upload some documents to its system.
KXAN Investigates put in a public information request with WCID 17 asking for records showing the amount of time the water district took to approve all plumbing permits and conduct inspections over the last six months. KXAN will update this story when we receive a response.
Customers like Perry and her neighbors are stuck in the middle.
“We’re all seniors,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this.”
Aqueduct told KXAN Investigator Mike Rush that soon after KXAN reached out to WCID 17 about the delayed inspections, the home inspections started and all six have now been completed.
Perry said even with the job finished, it’s too late to have Thanksgiving at her house.
A WCID 17 spokesperson said with the new software, permits can be issued in one or two days instead of several weeks under the previous system.