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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s no secret that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has had its issues in the past three years.

Rate increases and the authority’s tier structure have many customers up in arms about the authority. It’s to the point some folks have decided to take getting water into their own hands.

“Just an astronomical increase in the bill. Astronomical,” customer Paul Buren said.

Right now, Buren’s water bill is about $100, but last summer he paid bills seven and eight times that to CFPUA because of watering his lawn. The extra water use moved his household into CFPUA’s third tier, which increased his rates even more.

“They’ve shown absolutely no concern with rising rates, and it’s only going to get worse,” Buren said.

Buren has decided to take action. In the spring, he’s having an irrigation well put in.

Buren says he’s not the only one in his neighborhood digging a well. Since May, seven people now have their own supply of water.

And Buren’s neighbors are not alone in their decision. According to well-digging companies, since CFPUA started in 2008, irrigation wells have been popping up all over New Hanover County.

“More and more people are having wells drilled,” said Jim Cornette, president of ARM Waterworks. “Their payoff is generally one summer where they’ll drill a well, a good water quality water supply well, and pay it off in one summer, so it’s a good investment for these folks.”

Cornette says his crews are only drilling wells for customers with large yards who need more water for irrigation.

Meanwhile, Buren says something needs to change within the CFPUA.

“They’re going to have to do away with the tiered structure, or there is going to be significant changes with that leadership,” he said.

We contacted the CFPUA to see what it had to say. So far a spokeswoman has not returned our call.

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