Pender Co. Commissioners against water rate hike in Hampstead neighborhood

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — After ongoing issues with muddy water, water pressure, and even stained clothing, a water company wants to increase rates for its customers in Hampstead.

Two weeks ago, Utilities Incorporated warned its customers in Belvedere Plantation about discoloration due to a well upgrade, but customers say the problems have been going on for years.

Many residents in Belvedere Plantation said they have received some of the same phone calls from the water company over the years.

“‘Don’t do your laundry,'” homeowner Gerald Johnson said. “What do you mean I can’t do my laundry? Boil your water. Keep an eye on it.”

Homeowner Rick Zino said they do not always get a warning, but when they do, sometimes the warning is because of brown water.

“Don’t wash any clothes, because your clothes may get stained,” Zino said.

Johnson said they have witnessed that first hand.

“My wife has washed the sheets and they’re brown,” Johnson said.

Sometimes, Zino said the warning is more of a health concern. He said they are told to use bottled water for everything from cooking to brushing their teeth.

“Have you ever tried to brush your teeth with bottled water? It’s interesting. Try it sometime,” Zino said.

Just two weeks after the most recent issue, Pender County Commission Chair George Brown and Commissioner David Williams released a letter saying Utilities Incorporated has put in a request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a rate increase.

“This is just crazy,” Johnson said. “I want to get prorated for the water that I didn’t use instead of raising my rates.”

“It’s just annoying that they’re not giving you the service, but they want more money to give you the service that they’re supposed to giving to us anyway,” Zino said.

That is why Brown and Williams said they are asking the North Carolina Utilities Commission to deny the request at a hearing on August 23.

“It’s important to us that these people feel like they have clean water to drink and that a rate increase is just unacceptable right now until they get these problems straightened out,” Brown said. “We just felt like we need to step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, look. Don’t add insult to injury by increasing your rates during a time when you can’t even get your quality in order.'”

The request from commissioners is one Johnson and Zino can accept.

“That’s fine with me,” Johnson said. “They can do that.”

“Good for them,” Zino said. “They’re going to do something about it or attempt to do something about it.”

We have reached out to Utilities Incorporated for a comment on the rate increase proposal. We are still waiting for a response.

Categories: Local, Pender

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