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Residents upset about billing by Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

READ MORE: Residents upset about billing by Cape Fear Public Utility Authority
Concerns continue to mount over the way New Hanover County residents are charged for water and sewer. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority took over Wilmington's water and sewer last year. Since then, they've been playing a game of billing catch-up, much to the dismay of residents. Wednesday morning, the CFPUA opened their budget meeting up to the public, only to find out that the public keeps voicing the same concerns... Rhonda Ponos has two daughters under the age of seven. Keeping them dressed, fed, and clean requires water, but after she got a whopper of a water bill, she's been cutting back as much as she can. "I hate to penalize my kids for taking baths, we are trying to conserve as much as possible,” she said. The CFPUA bills households based on gallons used. For example, if a family of four is using 12,000 gallons of water, and a single resident next door is using 9,000 gallons, the family of four is actually being more conservative, but because they use more gallons, they're placed in a higher tier and forced to pay more. The tier system charges three different rates, based on the first 9,000 gallons used, the second 9,000 gallons and so forth. "That current rate structure is tied to water consumption, without taking into consideration the number of individuals that live at a particular address,” said Michael Hackeling. “We feel discriminated against, and we feel that this tier rating they have is discrimination against those who have more than two people in their household,” Ponos said. Ponos also owns rental property. CFPUA bills many landlords, not tenants, for water usage. She says because the bills have been so late, by the time she's gotten them in the mail, the tenants have moved out. "As landlords, property owners, we've been paying tenants bills, and as much as the bills have been delayed, it's been escalating." And because she can't control how much water those tenants are using, she says it's another example of why the tier billing system is unfair.

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I receive a water bill about

I receive a water bill about once a week....and it increases about $100 each time. I've called and spent over 30 minutes speaking with customer service. She was very nice, but didn't seem to understand what was going on either. I would just like someone to send a bill that explains ALL of the charges, not just add on another $100 each time with no reasoning where it came from. It's amazing that they're in business.

Our local government has

Our local government has created a inept one at best. Costs to the consumer/taxpayer have sky-rocketed. Notice how many new white CFPU pickups are running around. Try to figure out how our water bills are calculated and why they are so high since the change over. Even if you have lived at the same address for years, if you move to a new address, they charge you $50 to change your account!!!! I am real tired of hearing about computer issues. Computer issues are usually due to poor planning, poor implementation, and certainly poor management. And that deserves a bonus??? Oh how the monster continues to grow. Where is a dragon slayer when you need one?

The CFPUA is a joke. When

The CFPUA is a joke. When they took over I went in everymonth to find out where my bill was and like everyone else I was told they were having computer problems and it should be fixed shortly. That being said I finially started recieving my bill last Nov. and have been getting a bill everymonth since then. This is absurd, not only can I not keep up on paying a $140 bill every month, I feel that I am being double charged for the service. (My bill used to be $40 a month for water trash and sewer.) When I questioned why I was being charged a $30 base rate for water and sewer, then a per gallon charge for the consumtion, I was told that was standard billing procedure and if I had a problem then I would have to take it up with board (who ever they are). I have now decided to give them $40 a month the cost of my old service till such time they fix my bill or I move, at which time I will not pay them anymore money and I can wait the 7 years for it come off my credit. Oh because I live in the city I can't have a well and a septic tank I have to use them. Just another way this city is ripping me off.


NHC residents it was always a base rate plus gallons used. Nothing new there for us. I to have gotten bill after bill for months now and it was quite aggravating...while VERY FRUSTRATING you also have to understand DIDN'T get a bill for months just don't NOT pay your credit card bill because you didn't get a bill. In retrospect had I put aside the cash that I knew was going to be due...none of this would be an issue. THERE IS plenty of blame to be given to our illustrious elected leadership as well as CFPUA...but we have to take some of it as well. You can't pay a bill if they don't know what to charge you though..but as far as I know..NO late fees or disconnections are being done until this is fixed. I HATE the new system punishes those families with kids.


My husband and I are on a well and septic in Pender. No problems here. Even though we have no water bill we do not waste water EVER. I water my plants when we have no rain but even in that drought we never watered our lawn, it died, it came back. Our 2 neighbors water their lawns at least 5 days a week for 6-8 hours in hot sunlight off the same underground water supply we have for our house. They are on community water so they do not care if they dry up the well water that we use to drink and bathe. I would never pay 140.00 a month for water. That is a RIP OFF. They are using the same pipes that where already there. What have they improved to justify such rates? OH never mind, you all are paying for that expensive new computer billing system that they have a moron operating.


This company is a joke and the manager received a bonus for the outstanding job he did. I have not seen an outstanding job, I have only seen high water bills and receive them weekly. TERRIBLE SERVICE

You AND the CFPUA are both nuts

If your account uses more water than your neighbor, you should pay more. If I use 30,000 gallons to fill my pool and you use 30,000 gallons to run your household, WE SHOULD PAY THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT FOR THAT WATER. Both accounts used the exact same amount of water. Per capita use per account is inconsequential. Billing is based on water consumption per account - just as it should be. You made the decision to bear children. It's not up to the rest of society to subsidize your reproduction choices by giving you cheaper water. You should pay the same as any other household. Are you also upset that you pay the same electric rate as single people....that a gallon of gasoline costs you the same as a single person pays, even though there are more people in your car? That said, there should be no "tiers" at all. Every account should pay for per gallon billing.

Commonsense is right!

Common sense hit the nail on the head! They should have a minumum rate...then you only pay for what you use after that! Gee, wouldn't that encourage folks to try to conserve a bit? CFPUA, are you listening?????

I agree with you. However,

I agree with you. However, my consumption has not changed, yet my water bill has increased by four times. I know becasue I compared to my water consumption to a past bill from before they took over. Now my question is this....if I am using the same amount of water as before, why am I being charged four times as much? Makes no sense on any level.

why the change?

I could be mistaken, but I believe before the consolidation the city charged based on usage, similar to what the authority does now. On the other hand, the county gave breaks to those households who used more water. Therefore, anyone living in the county who was used to paying less for using more, is now paying more for using more. Also, county customers who received a discount from the county stopped receiving it when the consolidation went through.


I AGREE with what you are saying..but the CFPUA is speaking all GREEN...touting water CONSERVANCY...if it IS purely about CONSERVANCY then two people using 30,000 gallons and a family of four using 30,000 is TWO totally different things in that respect.

Pay for what you use

So true. I suppose these are the same people who think that if they have four people in their car they should pay less to fill it up with gas, too? If you are going to get a per capita thing, why not take it a step further and get into individual billing. That's right -- then everyone could have their own usage code and would pay. I go the extra effort to conserve water when I can, so I should be rewarded when my bill comes. Otherwise why would I conserve? If I get a bigger discount by using more, then why wouldn't I want to? And I have a rental house. My tenants are responsible for the water, trash & sewer. It's called third party billing. Ultimately, I would be responsible for any non-payment, but my tenants receive a bill, I receive a copy, and I make sure they pay that bill. It's part of the responsibilities of being a landlord.


I could not agree with you more common. A simple price per gallon used would be the most fair way to bill. The power company has no problem with this...

Water usage

Actually the power company has a rate for those who use power off peak. The time of use rate charges two different rates, the on peak rate being higher. I don't have an issue with tiered rating, but there needs to be a good average consumption rate that reflects the average home size, maybe something on the three bedroom, two bath size range that seems to reflect the average house around here. As far as green, getting the general assembly to allow grey water reusage would go a long way toward keeping consumption down. Regarding irrigation, I believe in dedicated wells for those on the public water supply. I have issue with putting treated drinking water on the ground and the leftovers reenter the water table.


I have a family of four and it has been tough to keep up with our water bill. We moved into a rental home last September and for a few months we weren't receiving a water bill. We were told by our landlord it was because the new people who took over were having computers problems. i try to understand that things have been difficult for the new company and all. What I don't understand is how is that our fault? I would think that the company would just have to eat the loose of money for some of those months. My last water bill is still running months behind and I have had a water bill every month so far. At this rate we will never be able to get caught up and on a regular every other month bill. Something has to give. The company should wipe the slate clean and let everyone start new. New company New slate New bill.

water woes

It is absurd. I have paid more THIS year alone that I have paid in the 16 months prior. My water bill went from averaging $90 to averaging $260. How can that be? How is that fair? And when you try to speak with the CFPUA, you get nowhere.