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Residents to fight proposed water rate increase

Posted December 30, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Some area residents plan to fight a proposed rate increase by the company that provides their drinking water.

Aqua North Carolina, a publicly traded company that provides drinking water and wastewater treatment to about 255,000 residents in 42 counties statewide, has filed a request with the state Utilities Commission to increase water and sewer rates for about 70,000 customers by 20 to 120 percent.

Water and sewer rates could go up Water and sewer rates could go up

"I couldn't believe with everything going on these days that somebody's asking for that much of an increase," said Jim Czerski, an Aqua customer who lives in the Sussex Acres subdivision in north Raleigh.

Czerski said his bill will likely jump from $70 to about $100. A single man, he said Aqua's flat-rate pricing unfairly hits him because he doesn't use a lot of water.

"Everybody's hurting. This doesn't make it any easier," he said.

Under the proposed increase, which the Utilities Commission will review Feb. 3, the sewer bill alone in Garner's Mobile Hill Estates community would increase 126 percent.

Aqua customers in Fayetteville, whose rates went up earlier this year, aren't affected by the rate request.

"As a company, we need to and are entitled to a fair rate of return on our investment, and that's what we're asking," Aqua President Tom Roberts said, adding that the company was "sympathetic to the economic times."

Since 2000, the company has poured $60 million into infrastructure improvements, Roberts said. Much of that was upgrading the system it acquired in North Carolina four years ago when it purchased Heater Utilities.

In recent years, Aqua has been criticized for discolored water and high levels of radium, which can cause cancer.

Czerski said Aqua is asking too much, and he plans to fight the proposed increase.

"If everybody gets away with a few bucks, eventually (the cost of utilities) gets higher and higher and higher, and that few bucks becomes a bigger dent in the wallet," he said.


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  • davincileo Dec 31, 2008

    Terrible water quality. No surprise the bills are sent to NJ- the land of corruption.

  • doubletap357 Dec 31, 2008

    They are just looking for new ways to "soak" their customers.

  • Nope Dec 31, 2008

    I pay by the water usage that we have. Their water quality is very bad. We, like many of our neighbors, had to install a water softener to deal with the staining. They know they have a problem as evidenced by the fact that they will deliver two products free of charge to your door that will supposedly remove stains from your dishwasher and clothes.

    They are right when they say they are a private company in business to make money. BUT they have no competition and we are stuck with a low quality product. We can't vote with our feet and go to a competitor.

  • speedy Dec 30, 2008

    Everyone's idea of "alot" is different. But I see that he probably IS subject to a flat rate SEWER fee, not water.

    And thanks for the snipey response.

  • speedy Dec 30, 2008

    Can ANYBODY verify that Aqua charges a flate rate and not by usage?

  • textilesdiva Dec 30, 2008

    Speedy, brush up on your reading comprehension...or read all of the article.

    Including the part where it says 'flat rate' and 'doesn't use a lot of water'

  • speedy Dec 30, 2008

    $70 per month? That's twice what I pay Aqua for a family of 4! Turn off the tap dude!

  • textilesdiva Dec 30, 2008

    *ENTITLED* to a reasonable rate of return?

    No, sir...You have to earn it.
    Rate of return on an investment (like, say, what you get in the stock market, or what a bank gets on a loan) is based on risk. It's not some automatic source of income.

    Go chew on a lead pipe.
    I'm glad I'm on a well.

  • Trivr Dec 30, 2008

    This is probably at least partially due to people conserving water during the drought. I'll never forget an article several months ago stating that the utilities wanted to raise rates due to lower water usage and therefore less income from consumers. Don't conserve or your rates will go up!

  • dws Dec 30, 2008

    Aqua's requested increases are as questionable as their water quality