KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - The state started an investigation earlier this week at the Bethpage Grocery gas station on Mooresville Road in Kannapolis after drivers complained about water in the gas pumps.
Drivers told Channel 9 they stalled out just after topping off their tanks.
Channel 9 learned that the recently pounding of rain the area has had this season could be causing water to get into gas pumps.
The manager at the gas station told Channel 9 that rainwater flooded the tanks after road crews across the street had blocked the drains.
Since the discovery, crews have installed a 24-inch pipe to fix the problem.
Channel 9 learned there have been nearly 30 other complaints in the past two weeks at gas stations all over the state.
In a dozen of the cases, state officials confirmed there was water in the gas.
"There could be a hole in an underground storage tank, whole bunch of water. Everything seeps in there,” Gonzalez said.
Daniel Gonzalez, an inspector with the Department of Agriculture, uses equipment in his truck to test the gas at local stations.
He said drenching rain can negatively impact gas buried in the ground.
"It's called phase separation,” Gonzalez said. “It’s when ethanol enriched gas comes into contact with a high amount of water.”
Gonzalez said when that gets into your gas tank, the damage can be costly.
"The car just completely stops because water in your tank is not good whatsoever,” he said.
Sarah Westmoreland, who is a victim of bad gas, said she is waiting to get her car back from the mechanic.
“Instead of celebrating holidays, I'm working through this,” she said.
Channel 9 asked Gonzalez how drivers can prevent it.
He said that without looking at the gas, it's hard to tell if there has been phase separation before putting it in your car.
In the video at the top of this page, why the store owner blames construction work for the problem.
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