Local News

Amherst community fighting against higher water rates

Posted May 31, 2009 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated May 31, 2009 10:48 p.m. EDT

— The 130 families who live in the Amherst community could see water and sewer bills jump 44 percent. The water for the Wake County subdivision, between Holly Springs and Garner, is handled by Nero Utilities in Illinois.

Kathy Olson is among the homeowners unhappy with the water quality provided by Nero Utilities and that the company has filed a request with the state to raise rates.

“I have to monitor and maintain my toilets on an extremely regular basis because we get these black strains that run down the toilet,” Olson said.

Olson said she drinks bottled water because she has concerns that the water is not clean. Now to make matters worse, Olson said Nero Utilities wants to raise overall water rates.

Officials with Nero Utilities say the average residential bill will increase $20 for water and $8 for sewer per month. They say it will be less than a $1 a day.

“It sounds like nothing, but when you add it up, that is $365 a year,” Olson said.

Nero officials say the increase is "due to higher operating expenses," and to help pay for a special mineral removal filter installed in 2006.

“The water service has been rather substandard,” resident Ina Lunney said.

Lunney collected signatures of neighbors who say they have similar water issues and are protesting the rate hike.

“Everyone is pretty fired up about it,” Lunney said.

“When you call them, all they will say is, 'We're meeting federal requirements,'” Olson said.

When WRAL News talked with Nero Utilities, the vice president said he couldn't comment about water quality issues.

“It's just not right,” Olson said.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will decide this summer whether the increase will go through. If so, it will be the company's first utility rate increase in five years.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. at the Commission Hearing Room 2115, Dobbs Building, 430 Salisbury St., Raleigh.