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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority are installing new sewer and water lines in the Heritage Park Area.

Connection to the lines is mandatory and residents must hire their own plumber. Folks living in the area are speaking out and they’re not happy.

“We can’t afford that,” Resident Laura Harris said. “We have families, we have children. A lot of people are retired and they’re on fixed income.”

$10,000-$12,000 per household is the price tag Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is putting on the installation of new water and sewer lines in the heritage park area.

Resident Pearlene Slade says she understands the need for the sewer lines, but until her personal property needs it, she doesn’t want to connect to those lines. “I’ve lived here for 55 years, I have no problem with my water. I have no problem with my sewer,” Slade said.

It doesn’t matter if some resident’s systems are working fine. The project is subject to mandatory connection, meaning everyone within a specified distance will be forced to connect or get fined.

“Why are we being forced to connect?” Harris asks. “Let them run their lines at no cost to us and let it be optional whether we want to connect or not.”

The county and the CFPUA are using mandatory connection to ensure funding for the construction. CFPUA spokesman Mike McGill says it actually keeps cost down.

“It’s called mandatory connection for a reason,” McGill said. “So the cost of construction for these lines is spread out over the entire customer base.”

But the customer base is starting to question some of the charges.

“$110 of that cost is basically new customer fees,” Harris said. “We’re not being new customers. We’ve been here forever.”

Residents expressed their concerns at a public meeting and McGill says the CFPUA is taking that into consideration.

“We’re gonna develop a plan where we can look at certain options of what we could possibly do to lessen the impact,” McGill said.

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