Water

Water containers provided by the city of Denton sit in front of homes in the Green Tree Estates neighborhood Sunday in southeastern Denton.

Ahead of the next Denton City Council meeting about water services at Green Tree Estates, one neighborhood resident said the city’s temporary solution is working well, but she hopes the city extends the emergency declaration to give residents more time to prepare for their futures.

Residents of the mobile home community in southeastern Denton have been using 275-gallon water tanks and water provided by the city for about a month as a temporary solution to their lack of water service.

Most of the lots at Green Tree are owned by Don Roddy, who was also providing water to residents through the well he owns there. Roddy told the city he would cease operation of the well on Nov. 15. This left residents scrambling for ways to stop this as well as looking for other solutions.

Although residents weren’t drinking the water provided by Roddy, which was yellow in color when they turned on faucets, they still needed the water for washing dishes, clothing and bathing.

“We bought [our home] here because we thought there was water,” homeowner Gladis Soto said in Spanish. “We’re worried because we don’t know what to do [next].”

Denton City Council approved a declaration of a local emergency for 90 days for the community on Nov. 15. They were able to provide residents with 55-gallon barrels, 275-gallon tanks and water three times a week through the ordinance they passed.

The emergency declaration will last through Feb. 12. This gives the city and residents two more months to find more permanent solutions to provide residents with water or alternative housing.

For the last month, Soto’s household of six has used an electric pump to move water from their 275-gallon tanks into the home. This has allowed nonpotable water to come out through faucets, allowing her family to use it.

The water provided by the city lasts her household about two to three days, Soto said.

As part of the temporary plan, city trucks refill the water tanks three times a week.

City Council is expected to discuss the city’s next steps in the neighborhood during its work session Tuesday afternoon. City staff, Green Tree residents and representatives from other organizations met Thursday to inform residents what the city could and couldn’t do, provide feedback and answer questions.

City Manager Todd Hileman said the city staff has more options for council members to consider now that they have addressed the crisis and had more time to study the neighborhood’s infrastructure problems.

One option not on the table, however, is creating a special taxing district that could fund needed public improvements, such as new water distribution lines, Hileman said.

“The assessed values are so low, they would not be able to generate the income they need,” Hileman said.

Special taxing districts may be better known as a funding tool for massive residential subdivisions or commercial projects. But Denton County Commissioner for Precinct 1 Hugh Coleman — who is known for opposing such districts — said infrastructure improvements for distressed neighborhoods like Green Tree were the original impetus for such public financing.

The water well owner owns about half of the property in the mobile home park and is trying to sell the land he owns, so the city staff hasn’t heard from him, Hileman said.

“If a few folks got together, that could change the economics,” Hileman said.

At this point, however, it is unclear to the city how many of the other property owners are living in Green Tree and how many are leasing to the residents there.

Soto said city staff has expressed the possibility of discontinuing the temporary water service once the 90 days is up on Feb. 12. She said she wants the city to reconsider.

“We’re asking for more time so we can see what changes [will be made] or if we’ll have to find our own way to get water,” Soto said. “We just want the city to have compassion. We don’t have the money to move out.”

Staff writer Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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