• Aqua North Carolina to raise rates near 20 percent


    MINT HILL, N.C. - In a Mint Hill neighborhood, plenty of people are tired of their water company, Aqua North Carolina.

    When Eyewitness News told people like Jen Ponder that the company wants to raise rates by 19 percent, this was the response, "They need to be gone. We need city water and they need to be gone," said Ponder.

    Aqua North Carolina is the same company Eyewitness News investigated in May.

    Families shared their frustrations because of the way their tap water looked.

    The company's president told Eyewitness News then that it is safe to drink, but neighbors were still concerned.

    Gary Meyfohrt told Eyewitness News on Monday night that he is still worried about the water quality and he can't understand why the company wants more money.

    "I think it's absolutely ridiculous to pay 20 percent more on top of the extremely high water rates that it is already for water we can't use," he said.

    Already in some places, Aqua customers are paying more than some of its competitors.

    In the company's own filings, Eyewitness News found the average residential customer's water bill is $42 a month.

    If the increase were approved, the average water bill could go up by $10 a month.

    On Monday night, on the phone, the company's president admitted the new, higher average bill would likely be more compared to water service operated by the city of Charlotte, but he defended the hike, saying operating expenses are up, that they are investing in more infrastructure across the state and customers are using less water because of energy-efficient appliances.

    "We recognize there is no good time to raise rates more for anything, quite frankly. But it's the mechanism we have to recover our operating expenses and protect our investments," said Tom Roberts.

    This will affect about 88,000 customers in 52 counties across the state.

    This is the third case of rate hikes in the past five years for the state's biggest private water provider.


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