Pender County: No drought surcharge as water shortage emergency continues

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Pender County leaders say the county will not charge water customers in a drought surcharge during the water shortage emergency in the eastern part of the county.

The county announced over the weekend the emergency affecting customers in Hampstead, Scotts Hill and areas south of 7390 NC 210 near Rocky Point east of the Northeast Cape Fear River. Pender County Utilities customers are strongly urged to conserve water. They are asked not to wash cars or water lawns and only use appliances such as clothes washers when filled.

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“Pender County commissioners and administration have been working to address infrastructure issues as the county continues to experience tremendous growth,” County Manager Randell Woodruff said in a news release Monday. “Our staff has been working on options to maintain and keep up with the growth in population.”

PCU Director Kenny Keel said it appeared that the county still had time to finalize these sources without an impact to the water system.

“However, the current drought situation, excessive heat and widespread frequent irrigation within these areas led to our current shortage,” Keel said in the release.



This weekend’s announcement said customers would face drought surcharge of 1.5 times the normal water rate. The county is now backtracking on that.

“A drought surcharge will not be charged,” County Commission Chairman George Brown said in a news release.

Further complicating matters is that there is also a system pressure advisory. PCU consumers are advised to boil all water used for human consumption – including drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation – or use bottled water. Vigorous boiling for one minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present in the water due to low pressure.

The lack of water is a far cry from what Pender County residents were dealing with just a few months ago, as Hurricane Florence dumped several feet of water in some areas. Wilmington International Airport had more than 100 inches of rain in 2018.

In the long-term, county leaders say they have been in negotiations for an interconnection with another water system, as well as the potential construction of a water treatment plant on the east side of the county.