• 9 Investigates: Dark water turns filters brown; some residents scared to drink it

    By: Natalie Pasquarella


    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - Dark, dingy-looking water is turning filters brown, and some people in the Charlotte area said they have been scared to drink it for years.

    Eyewitness News followed their fight to get Mecklenburg County to take over their water service, and went to the president of the current water company to get answers for fed-up residents and to find out what is being done to change the water.

    "It's supposed to be white, and now it looks like brown dirt," said Angie Hogan.

    Hogan said she is disgusted when she looks at the water filter in her home.

    "If you are what you eat, and you are what you drink, that's pretty sad," she said.

    The mother of four bought the filter because of water she calls "undrinkable," and she went a step further, taking another precaution in the kitchen.

    "This is our second filter system for the house, which means we are getting filtered water," said Hogan.

    She is one of several residents in Mint Hill's Ashe Planation subdivision unhappy with Aqua North Carolina, the exclusive provider of water there.

    "This is a fairly new water filter that he put on," said Sharon Decker. She showed Eyewitness News water from more neighbors.

    "Some people do not have a filter," she said.

    She said those without filters have brown water at least once a month.

    Gray Meyfohrt showed Eyewitness News his corroded faucets.

    "If it's corroding pipes and metal and appliances, what it is going to do my body?" he questioned.

    He said the water ruined two water heaters.

    A big hurdle for residents has been a moratorium that the State Environmental Management Commission placed on the area, because of an endangered mussel.

    It prevented the county from having access to the land. However, in the last week, the commission lifted it, which means that the county can now make a push to provide water to Ashe Plantation.

    "We are not interested in selling our assets to the county," said Aqua North Carolina President Tom Roberts.

    Roberts said his company plans to continue providing water there. He insists the water meets safety standards.

    "The facts are the water's always been safe to drink. It's never presented a health issue," said Roberts.

    Eyewitness News showed Roberts all the pictures from residents.

    "I probably would hesitate to drink that water, not from a health standpoint, but I understand the aesthetics of it," said Roberts.

    He did not argue that the water is, at times, discolored, but he said it is safe because of the filters he showed Eyewitness News attached to neighborhood wells.

    "This is what's taking out the iron and manganese in the system," he said.

    He said the filters have malfunctioned in the past, causing brown water, but he said they have since been repaired and not all residents see discoloration.

    As for Hogan, she is hoping the county steps in because she just does not trust the water flowing into her home.

    "You've got brown, rocky sediment coming out of your faucet, that's not going in my body or my kids," said Hogan.

    As for the possibility of the county providing water to residents there, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department said their first step would be to contact Aqua North Carolina.

    The department said there are several options, and a likely possibility would be choosing to buy out Aqua North Carolina, but of course that company would have to agree and again, Roberts told Eyewitness News his company is not interested.

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