Mecklenburg County neighborhoods are working to address concerns about Aqua NC’s service and rates through collective action. Sharon Decker, Homeowners Association President of Ashe Plantation neighborhood, says residents are being overcharged and disregarded by Aqua, and residents have experienced discoloration and sediment in water. “I could write a book about the poor service,” Sharon told CWFNC. She intends to host a meeting among other Mint Hill neighborhoods serviced by Aqua and create a non-partisan committee whose mission is to make their water issues known to local politicians. The group will educate future state senators on the issues related to Aqua NC, since the legislature controls funding for Public Staff and has an oversight duty for the Commission and its nominees.
Similar efforts may soon be underway in other regions of NC. Visit this page for more information and how you can get involved, whether you’re an Aqua customer or just a concerned resident.
Aqua North Carolina continues to build its reputation for poor service, steep prices and outright mistreatment of water and sewer customers in NC. In a history of unjust practices, the most recent may take the cake: when residents miss a wastewater service payment, Aqua NC hires a contractor to come to the house and install a cutoff valve. The company then turns off sewer service, allowing sewage to back up into people’s homes, while slapping customers with $645 or more for the valve. Even worse, some folks who have already paid their bills pled with the contractors to stop valve installation, but were ignored. In one case, Aqua NC admitted they had previously received payment, but as the valve was installed, the customer was still responsible for paying. Others have tried to pay their bills but did not complete all the steps in Aqua’s convoluted billing system in time.
Elva Ramseur of Huntersville (pictured), who has several chronic health problems, is one of the residents whose health was threatened by a sewer cutoff. When she found herself with more than $1,000 in sewer bills from Aqua, with sewage backing up into her home, she wrote to the NC Utilities Commission’s Public Staff, but was told they didn’t get involved in “billing disputes.” She learned that the Commission allows Aqua NC to recover the valve installation costs up to $2,200 from customers! “They don’t exercise any influence or authority over Aqua,” Elva observed.
Thanks to Elva, and media coverage of other customers’ experiences, more affected customers are speaking out. The Commission announced in January they would investigate this practice. Pressure is mounting on the Commission to force Aqua to require a longer grace period, clear written notice, and opportunities to arrange payment.
Without stronger regulation, Aqua NC can continue, in the words of another customer, “doing everything they can to steal as much money as they can from us.”
A growing number of Aqua customers are working to build a statewide network to advocate for stronger regulation of the company. Juli Williams of Raleigh has contacted more than 3000 members of homeowners associations, and folks including Sally Stoehr (Raleigh), Bob Kroupa (Roaring Gap), and Barry Dale Price (Stallings) are keeping their own neighborhoods engaged. Pete Minges, Stan Coleman and others are providing detailed analysis of Aqua’s tariffs and costs. To join in the statewide effort, e-mail email@example.com or click here.