AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are dozens of people in the southeast and eastern Travis County area who live without running water. For some, it’s been their way of life for decades.
Tuesday, Travis County Commissioners are set to discuss and develop strategies that could lead to a solution. The hope is to come up with a plan that would provide water lines to every single home in the county. That would allow county officials to raise the cost of bulk water without pricing out residential customers and ensure outsiders are not abusing the water for financial gain.
County officials said they’ve tried to fix the problem in the past, but faced several roadblocks including the cost of new lines and accounting for all the affected neighbors.
“It’s been very difficult, but that’s how we’ve been living,” Santos Lara said about the situation.
The father of two first moved to the area 10 years ago.
“I was hoping one day we would have running water because we are in the United States,” he said.
The Honduras native has been making a weekly trip to the Travis County’s Precinct 4 Office to collect water. Once home, he transfers the water into his house using a makeshift system.
“With the electricity, I turn on a pump and then I am able to transfer it to a holding tank,” he explained.
Lara’s family is just one of dozens in Las Lomitas neighborhood who have to pay for county bulk water. At present, Lara said he pays about $10 each month for 4,000 gallons. That doesn’t include the money he spends on bottled water for all of the family’s cooking and consumption needs as the bulk water is non-potable.
Last fall, county officials proposed raising the prices of the bulk water from the current $2.50 per 1,000 gallons to $6 per 50 gallons. If the county decided to put the new prices in effect, Lara would end up paying close to $500 a month for 4,000 gallons of water.
“I say to myself, we are in America,” he said holding back the tears. “It’s not easy, but here we are.”
But before county officials increase prices, they said commissioners are committed to ensuring people have running water.