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Sand Branch Water War: Dallas Town Fighting for Running Water

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DALLAS -- Alvin Batts settled in Sand Branch in 1963. Five decades later, he’s become a master of getting by in possibly the poorest community in Dallas.

"I ain’t just started this. I've been doing it all my life. Been doing it all my life,” Batts said. "I got barrels sitting outside my house, and when it rains, it fills them up, and that's what I use to flush my commode."

It’s 2016, and there’s an entire community in Dallas County with no running water and no sewer system.

"This is something we need, not our wants,” Batts said. "This is something we need.”

When Sand Branch was declared a floodplain, it made it a lot harder to legally make improvements like adding water and sewer lines.

To make things even worse, residents say construction in the area has left well water contaminated.

Folks who live in Sand Branch say their commissioner, John Wiley Price, would rather move them out than help them save their community, and they’re issuing him a challenge.

“I’ll let him have a whole gallon. Won't cost him a dime,” Batts said. "I just wanna see him drink it. I just wanna see him drink it.”

Tuesday morning, environmental lawyer Mark McPherson will meet behind closed doors with federal agencies including the EPA, FEMA and USDA at the Dallas County Commissioners Court. His goal is to win approval for Sand Branch to start a water project.

While that group is optimistic, others feel like they’ve heard this one before.

"That's the greatest thing that could happen, for Jesus Christ to bring that water down here,” Batts said. "That's who it's going to take, not John Wiley Price. "

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