Oberlin residents struggle with water & gas issues - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Oberlin residents struggle with water & gas issues

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Between water problems and staggering gas bills for some, residents of Oberlin are having a rough week.

Water is a basic essential for life,  but people in Oberlin have struggled with theirs going on and off over the past several days. 

Laura Strother says they even have to drive out of town to purchase water...to Kinder or to Oakdale because the water on the shelf, there's no, there's no water to buy right now.  it's hard to get any here.

The culprit is an aging water main that they've patched several times.  Council Member Phil Beard says the pipes underground are old.

"Before we cover this up we've got to make sure that this patch that we did on it holds. Three times so far it's blown the patch. These pipes with casing may be 80 years old," said Beard.

And District 5 Fire Chief Roy Lowman says he's had to ask neighboring fire departments to be on standby due to low water pressure.

"If they have to shut down the water to repair a leak or a rupture what that causes, now I have to rely on the other fire departments in this parish as well as other city fire departments to dome and help me with water," said Lowman.

A town council meeting at 6 p.m. included an agenda item to give the mayor the authority to make payment plans for utility bills.

As if the water problems were not enough, Lowman and some citizens find their gas bills have in some cases more than quadrupled. His is $900 for one month and he's not alone.

"It's very upsetting, very upsetting to the public right now," said Lowman.

Strother's bill is $669 for one month.

"I'm very worried.  I have 3 kids in college and it's difficult on us, I mean with the economy the way it is," she said.

It's not clear yet whether the big bills stem from mistakes or increased gas usage due to the cold weather.

Citizens who have a huge gas bill can ask the town to come out and re-read the meter and the council is expected to authorize the mayor to help citizens work out a payment plan.

And the town is asking the Louisiana Rural Water Association for help to try to find a permanent solution to the on again off again water problems.

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