Running Dry: Enterprise's water problems go beyond brown water

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ENTERPRISE, La. (KNOE) - Imagine paying for water every month. Imagine paying for water that's rarely safe to use. Imagine paying, only to find out the water may be shut off anyway.

Courtesy: KNOE 8 News

John Tiser doesn't have to imagine.

"Honestly, if it's a business, it would've been under years ago," Tiser said. "We wouldn't even still be operating right now. If we continue down this road, we're going under."

Tiser is the president of the Enterprise Water Board. He says the water system is drowning in debt.

"We have 196 meters, and we're half a million dollars in debt," Tiser said.

Four hundred and seventy-three thousand dollars to be exact and the numbers show it's getting worse. In August, the system lost $4,100. In September, they lost $4,600. In October, they made money...a whopping $45.

"This is no disrespect to anybody before me or anything, but I think it's a lot of not thinking about the future," Tiser said. "They're only dealing with the problems in front of them."

Problems like pipes that constantly need repairs. JCP, the water system's management company, can make any repairs necessary up to $2,500 without contacting the water board. According to balance sheets since August, they have.

Tiser says that needs to stop.

"We need to ask JCP to say, 'Hey, if you do any work that isn't emergency work, we need to be notified, because we don't know if we can afford it.'"

And it's not just the pipes. The system went online in 1969, charging customers a flat-rate of $25, plus additional fees. In 2017, the flat-rate is still $25.

"There's no way to maintain a system with a $25 flat-rate."

That means prices have to go up. Last month, the system's old board put a rate increase in place from $25 to $39, starting January 1, 2018. Tiser's been relaying the message on Facebook and knows what the higher fees are going to mean.

"There's probably going to be people who drill their own well and get off the system," he said. "I'm just hoping it's not enough to cripple us."

But that's not the only option. The board is working to get a low-interest loan - to get the water system back to zero, start repairing some of these older lines and hopefully get the system back on the track.

"We're $500,000 in debt. we cannot survive steadily going in the hole," Tiser said.