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Water company could be drying up private wells

Posted October 20, 2010

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— A public water company might be contributing to dropping water levels in private wells that are going dry in a north Raleigh neighborhood, according to preliminary data collected by Wake County environmental inspectors.

Four of nine private wells serving homes along Norwood Oaks Drive have gone dry, leaving residents without any water.

"I don't have a well. I have a hole in the ground," resident Mark Finnicum said.

Finnicum said the lack of water service makes everyday chores – changing diapers and washing hands – into a worry.

"The kids spill the dog's water bowl, (and) I cringe because I know I have to fill the water back up from somewhere," he said.

Other neighbors said it's likely just a matter of time before their wells go dry, too.

"We're at the lowest level we've ever seen," resident George Kavelak said.

Wake County officials have started investigating to determine why the water table has dropped. They said Wednesday that preliminary data points to two of three large community wells that Aqua North Carolina has within 2,000 feet of the affected area.

"We haven't physically confirmed that they're related. We do see a pattern to suggest they're related," Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda said.

County officials said in late September that a large pumping source is drawing on the private wells between midnight and noon every day, a pattern that's apparently consistent with utility companies. Inspectors requested information about Aqua's nearby pumping stations part of an investigation into well interference.

Tom Roberts, president of Aqua North Carolina, said he could neither "confirm or deny" the county's preliminary data.

"We are one of many impacts to the groundwater levels in the Wake County area," he said.

Roberts said he is sympathetic to the homeowners' concerns but he is focused on serving his thousands of paying customers in Wake County. He said the situation is about supply and demand.

For now, the county's hands are tied. Esqueda said that the process to force any action could take six to nine months.

Well owner Linda Dunnivan said she hopes the situation gets solved before then. Her well went dry this weekend, and she's had to drive 10 miles to a laundromat twice a week.

"I have to think I've got to do this for nine months," Dunnivan said. "I have no water, and it's very frustrating."

Roberts suggested that concerned well owners could become Aqua customers. Residents, though, didn't take kindly to the proposal.

"For us to now have to pay them, it's not right," Finnicum said. "They're squashing us."

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  • mtnmama Oct 22, 2010

    supercate78---I feel your pain. Our bill & our neighbors' bills average $110-120/mo. they try to tell me they have flushed our lines outside the house like you described, yet I am always home & know that is a lie. They are unscrupulous. When our faucets are on, we get more air than water & instead of streaming downward , it just spews horizonally. I've had a service request in for over a month & no one has addressed the issue yet. ANd it's not just my home, but the neighbors on wither side of me as well. And yes, they will flush your lines and then charge you for the water.

  • supercate78 Oct 22, 2010

    My husband and I moved into Hawthorne (off Norwood) about 5 months ago. I was blown away when we got our bill from Aqua. $96/month! I called and they told me that our water use is minimal - it's the standard charge of $65/month for the sewer that sends the bill into "crazy" territory (IMO).
    Also, I was at home one afternoon and heard running water from outside. I thought this must be a neighbor - I went out there and it was Aqua water "testing my water" because my house is "on their list this month" by running all my outside spigots at FULL FORCE for OVER 90 MINUTES. And then they charged me for it. Thanks Aqua. You guys are awesome. :P

  • sckinton60 Oct 21, 2010

    Everyone within a mile radius should get free water from AquaNC !!

  • Glass Half Full Oct 21, 2010

    Who dug their well(s) first, Aqua North Carolina or the homeowners?

  • oleguy Oct 21, 2010

    The state of NC dried up my well when they built I40,,, I had to deal with it,,,,

  • Wheelman Oct 21, 2010

    While they may be insensitive to the problems of other people and may be an awful company to deal with that doesn't make them guilty of stealing anyone's water. According to the article, it has not been confirmed yet that they are the source of the water shortage. Were their wells in place before the homeowners wells? Are there any regulations on how much water they can draw from a well? If so, have they violated it? Those of you slamming capitalism, where do you work? Your company is good and everyone else is bad? Work for the government? Where do you think the taxes that pay for your job come from? From the taxes paid by those companies and the people who work at them. You're hipocrits who bad mouth capitalism and then expect to enjoy the benefits of everything it provides. As far as a lawsuit, there has to be intent to cause harm.

  • gnewsome1 Oct 21, 2010

    Stealing water from the neighbors and then trying to sell it back to them. There has to be something that can be done. After all, stealing is stealing and a thief is a thief, any way you cut it.

  • mtnmama Oct 21, 2010

    I have Aqua and they are TERRIBLE to deal with! We have constant issues w/air in the lines becuase they don't properly maintain the pumps which has recently caused MAJOR issues. We often get debris & dirty water which we cannot trust to consume. Filters don't help much. It's miserable trying to shower, do dishes or laundry. I keep complaining, they keep ignoring, meanwhile our monthly water bills are rediculous. I wish Raleigh would annex us. I'd probably save $$ in the longrun since I have to buy bottled water to consume, & the wear & tear on my appliances due to constant air surges through the pumps on my dishwasher & washing machine, not to mention the water heater & toilets. The dirty water stains have ruined several loads of laundry over the years. They do not respond to complaints at all. I feel trapped! I do not recommend them at all!

  • soccerus Oct 21, 2010

    Looks like it's time to have a pool party at Roberts' house, bring all your friends.

  • shortcake53 Oct 21, 2010

    I have no problem with that solution urbizn. I sent an email to this company and got a response that said they had no idea what I was talking about.

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