Home Columnist Horace McQueen – Rural Water—it’s not free!

Horace McQueen – Rural Water—it’s not free!


Folks living in rural areas often have a choice in choosing their water supply. Either tie on to a rural water co-op line, if available, or pay for a well to supply the homestead. Most country dwellers have a co-op water line that they can access—but the cost of tying into the line varies considerably depending on the supplier.

Monthly minimum charge for water from the different water systems in our area ranges from $18 to $34 a month. Some of the co-ops include several thousand gallons of water in the minimum bill then charge additional per 1,000 gallons used. Consolidated Water Co-op, headquartered in Crockett, has the highest membership fee at $408. Their other charges are also the highest in our area. Cost to install a meter is a minimum of $1,750, plus usually several other “fees”. Consolidated co-op has a minimum of $34 a month water charge, with any water used costing $5.40 per 1,000 gallons.

In contrast, Pennington Water Co-op has a $150 membership fee, meter installation $600 and a monthly minimum bill of $25 that includes 3,000 gallons of water. Over 3,000 gallons, cost is $3 per thousand. In Cherokee County, Alto Rural water supply has a $100 membership fee and $905 meter installation. Monthly water charge is a minimum $29—and $4 a thousand for the first 4,000 gallons. The Maydelle water co-op has a $100 membership fee, $1,100 meter installation, a minimum $20 a month bill and water charge of $5 per thousand gallons.

Neches Rural Water Co-op has a $140 membership fee, $800 meter install and $3.75 a thousand gallon charge. Slocum water co-op has a $285 membership fee. Cost of meter installation is $1,450 with a minimum water bill of $18. Up to 8,000 gallons used monthly, the cost is $3.25 for each 1,000 gallons of water. In Henderson County the Crescent Heights water co-op has a $100 membership cost plus $1,300 for the tap fee. Water cost is $20 monthly minimum and $4 for each thousand gallons of water used. Bethel-Ash Water Supply near Athens has a $1,425 meter installation fee and a minimum $22 monthly charge. Water is billed at $2 for each 1,000 gallons, up to 15,000 gallons. Membership cost is $100.

As noted above, Consolidated Water Co-op has the highest charges of the suppliers we surveyed in a four county area. Several employees of Consolidated

are related to the General Manager and this has created controversy about favoritism. A major issue with Consolidated, according to dissident members, is a board of directors that seems to be more interested in not “rocking the boat” when it comes to making changes. One suggestion made to the directors several months ago by some member-owners recommended an in-depth financial audit of the co-op, but directors had no interest. In reality, all members of a co-op own the company and should exercise their vote to elect board members that represent the needs and desires of owners–not management! That’s what a cooperative is all about! That’s –30—horace7338@live.com