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Valley Mills residents fed up with constant boil water notices

Valley Mills has had at least three boil water notices since the start of the year.

VALLEY MILLS, Texas — Homeowners and residents in Valley Mills say they've had enough of the boil water notices that have plagued the town for the last few months.

So why have these notices been happening?

Mayor Ray Bickerstaff told 6 News that Valley Mills received a nearly $10 million federal grant to provide high-speed internet access to rural communities. 

Once the subcontractor began digging into the ground in Valley Mills, they began having a major pipe issue that could not be prevented easily.

"The problem with our community is it was established in 1896. A lot of the waterlines have been put in in the early 1900s. There are no more good maps that show where all of the piping work is," Bickerstaff explained.

Because of this, the subcontractors are accidentally hitting pipes when installing fiber underground. This is causing leaks, pipe bursts, and boil water notices to happen constantly across town. 

On the other hand, a homeowner in Valley Mills says he's seen these contractors drilling into the ground without properly knowing if there was a pipe in that part of the ground. 

He claims to have seen clean water flowing from his home to the outside road and has woken up to no water coming out of his faucet more often than not.

Valley Mills native Donna Peteto says internet should not be more important than clean water for the community and the city needs to do better with how they're going about this fiber installation.

"People are really tired of waking up and having no water running, can't have baths for kids or themselves..." Peteto explained. "That's the biggest complaint. If they'll comply with that particular issue, I think that they will probably have a lot less complaints going on around town."

Mayor Bickerstaff says Valley Mills has a population of over 1,400 people and he sees that growing within the next few years. Although this is unfortunate and inconvenient, he says the internet quality they'll have will be worth it in the end.

"Once you have the internet, you're going to think 'wow why couldn't I get it any sooner'. It's a win-win situation once it's all taken care of. It's just a part of the growing pains we have to go through when you've got a small community," Bickerstaff continued. 

A petition against fiber installations continuing has been created by a Valley Mills native. 

Also, homeowners joined together to take legal action against the city on the issue.

Overall, he wants to remove the 100-plus year old underground pipe work and get brand new pipe work done for the entire city. This will cost $40 million. While it may not happen soon, he hopes this can be the future for Valley Mills to alleviate this issue from happening again.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says residents in the area should continue to bring water to a vigorous boil for two minutes prior to consumption or use bottled water in the mean time.

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