LUBBOCK, Texas — If Brent Sisson waters his lawn and a sprinkler happens to leak one morning, he may be in for quite the wait before he can take a shower or flush his toilet.
As president of the Highland Oaks Homeowners Association, he says he hears similar stories from his neighbors all too often. As an unincorporated neighborhood just south of Lubbock city limits, Highland Oaksand its 257 homes rely on wells to supply their daily water. But without city infrastructure, residents say their wells often can’t keep up with demand. Many are petitioning the city to annex their neighborhood.
“A neighbor down the street from me – if they’re taking a shower, they can’t flush their toilet,” Mr. Sisson said. “These are the stories out here.”
Sisson worries the lack of water is causing property values to fall, as well. But it’s not just about convenience or cost. Without city water lines, the neighborhood has no fire hydrants or professional firefighters, and volunteer firefighters have to bring in their own water.
“If a house catches on fire out here and it catches good enough you can’t control it, that house is gone. It’s done. It burns to the ground, and we’ve got plenty of stories of that,” Sisson said. “That’s our biggest driving force – the protection of our homes out here.”
But their biggest hurdle is the political will. Annexation would require support from City Council and a vote of approval from neighborhood residents. The Homeowners Association worries City Council is set to table their annexation hearings until after the May election. That would give their neighborhood a tight timeline and may push the issue back until May 2023.
“If they do this, this is trouble for us,” Mr. Sisson said. “We’re not real pleased with this, so we’re hoping our City Council will do what we elected them to do, which is at least give us one hearing here and one after the election… pushing it back only drives the cost up higher and higher.”
While they say about 70 percent of neighborhood residents support annexation, another issue is the cost. Homeowners will have to split the cost to install city water lines and meters at a price tag of about $4 million – or about $15,500 per household. Neighborhood leadership is considering solutions such as doubling HOA dues and paying through that pot.
“The board is coming up with solutions to make it where everybody has access to it,” Mr. Sisson said. “That’s the biggest challenge for me is making sure nobody is left out.”
With a new water line on Frankford Avenue near their neighborhood, they hope this their chance to act on an opportunity that was never an option before. They say the timing is especially important, as a new golf course is set to use extensive amounts of the water supply and has many in the area concerned.
“Just the fire hydrants alone and having the professionals of the Lubbock Fire Department out here… it’s just a must do.”