Jan Lichtner might not be turning on her water in the near future. That is because Aqua North Carolina recently sent out a notice informing customers that it plans to raise rates by more than 200 percent. It is still difficult for her to describe the initial shock. “Well first of all I thought it was almost unbelievable, I wasn't sure that it was real,” said Lichtner. On Wednesday, other area residents met at Lichtner's house to discuss the situation. If the proposal is approved, Aqua customer’s base water rates will rise from just over $5 to more than $16. Sewer rates will go from $20 to more than $70. Richard Vengels, an Aqua customer said, “I applied the new rates to the old bill and found out that I would be paying close to 300% more than what I'm currently paying.” Communities like Cypress Island could see the greatest impact in the rising water costs, because not only will they see an increase on their bill, but community fees could rise to cover things like sprinkler systems or the community pool. Anthony Nobilio faces the fee increases and said, “Everything's going up, let's face it. But at 300%, is that really realistic? I don't think so.” Aqua did not explain the reason for the increase in the letter and did not return our phone calls. Cypress Island residents said the service has done nothing to warrant the increase. “When I initially moved in, you could not drink because of the taste, and the pressure, the pressure is so low,” said Vengels. Residents have already gathered more than a hundred signatures in opposition to the increase. Any New Hanover County resident who currently gets their water from Aqua would be affected by the fee increase. The county will hold a public hearing to discuss the issue Monday at 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse on 314 Princess Street. Cypress Island residents hope others will attend and voice their opinions.
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