TESI Customers Get A Break On Their Water Bills

Donald Gonzales enjoyed Wednesday's warm weather outside, washing his car. It's something he hasn't done in months.

"It was too expensive. We couldn't water the grass too much," Gonzales said.

That's because after Katrina, the company Total Environmental Solution lobbied for and instituted a rate increase. CEO Paul Maeder says the company went to the Public Utility Staff back in 2006 to see if they could raise the water prices from about $20 a month to more than $45 to help pay for upgrades and the loss of customers.

That request did not sit well with Jackson County Supervisor John McKay.

"Many people in the area, especially in the south area, lost their homes, were totally flooded and taking every bit of the money they had to rebuild their lives," McKay said.

So McKay wrote a letter to Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz opposing the increase. Bentz agreed.

TESI then took the case to Chancery Court in Jackson County. That's where Judge Jay Bradley ruled the water company could charge a flat rate of $36 a month until a decision was rendered.

That rate increase caused veteran James Thames and his wife, who live on social security, to make some cut backs.

"We kind of watched our water, washing the car, watering the yard. We used the necessary water we needed for showers and watering the dogs," James Thames said.

Wednesday, Thames and others got a bit of a break when the judge ruled that the water company could only charge a $27 rate for water.

"It was a relief. And the rest of the residents in Gulf park Estates is going to be happy," Thames said.

"This is what happens when you do not have to pay so much, water the car and put water on the grass," Gonzales said.

TESI can still take its argument to the Supreme Court, but right now the CEO says he is not sure if he will take that action.

TESI serves more than 3,000 customers along the gulf coast.