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Property owners in Channel Oaks are being asked to pay their past-due water bills after being under a boil water notice for roughly three months following the departure of the subdivision’s water operator in January.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lifted the boil water notice on April 6 after system owner Mary Maxey hired a new water operator on March 10. AJ Management Inc. filled the vacancy left by Dripping Springs-based Professional General Management Services, which quit servicing the system when Maxey failed to pay it for three months.

Rates for the past-due bills are based on the amount of water residents used prior to the boil water notice.

“They didn’t read the meters,” said Johnie Borgeson, vice president of the Channel Oaks Property Owners Association. “They did an average of our bills back when we were paying for water that we could use.”

Borgeson said residents are upset the past-due bills are not at a discounted rate.

“We don’t know why they wouldn’t average it at half (price) instead of averaging full (price),” she said. “Why didn’t they say, ‘You normally pay $75, but we’re only going to charge you $30 since you didn’t use it for months.’”

Borgeson said residents are also concerned with the state of the water system’s infrastructure, which was built in the 1960s.

“I can honestly say that I’m happy we have water,” Borgeson said. “Why we had to go through (a boil water notice) is unbeknownst to me. We still have leaks that haven’t been fixed and things that need to change.”

One particular part of the system has made Borgeson hesitant to trust the water’s cleanliness.

“It’s supposedly drinkable, but one of the pipes at the top (of the hill) has a slow leak,” she said.“It’s in a cesspool of nastiness, and I’m thinking, ‘What goes in comes out, what goes out comes in.’”

Property owners are currently working with water attorney Cindy Smiley to help navigate legal issues.

“She’s been great,” Borgeson said. “We’re just waiting on her to finalize some paperwork for us. She’s got to write up something for each of us.”

A call to Maxey for a response went straight to voicemail and was not returned before this story’s publication.