State puts pressure on major water company after more complaints filed

State puts pressure on major water company after more complaints filed

HICKORY, N.C. — There are new complaints against Aqua North Carolina, one of the largest local water providers.

Customers said there is dark, smelly water coming out of their faucets.

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"The smell is like sulfur or chlorine smell, it’s pretty bad,” said Megan Herman who lives in Forest Ridge subdivision in Hickory.

The state’s Utilities Commission is aware of the problems and officials have said they’re likely caused by elements like iron and manganese impacting wells.

In a recent mandate, the commission said the company must file bimonthly reports, “addressing water quality concerns raised by customers.”

They also have to submit a North Carolina water quality plan, which includes ways to address, “iron and manganese at levels known by Aqua to damage pipes and appliances and to be objectionable to customers for drinking.”

Aqua sent the following statement to Channel 9 Tuesday:

“Please see below for a detailed statement from Aqua North Carolina. In addition, while he’s not available this week because of travel, our state president, Shannon Becker, would be happy to meet and discuss our overall water quality improvement effort throughout the state. Thanks very much for the opportunity to respond.

“Aqua North Carolina understands the concerns expressed by some residents about discolored water in the Forest Ridge subdivision. 

"We are actively working to improve the water quality for this community. In 2018, this work has included the cleaning of both wells that serve the subdivision, along with the replacement of its two water supply tanks. Two cartridge filters were additionally installed over the last two years to help filter out heightened levels of iron. Sometimes, work that we perform on a water system, like the work described, can cause temporary discoloration, which may have been a reason for a recent uptick in customer concern. It should additionally be noted that Aqua requested, and recently received, approval from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to use phosphate treatment as an additional measure to improve water quality. This work is anticipated to be complete over the next several weeks.

“As part of our comprehensive water quality plan instituted in 2018, Aqua has recently performed special testing and identified that one of the two wells serving Forest Ridge may require a higher level of filtration. We are further assessing the need and timing of additional filtration work.

“For your background, Aqua is working collaboratively with our state regulators and has developed a robust water quality improvement program that we’re instituting throughout the state:

  • For wells with high levels of iron and manganese, we are thoroughly assessing the need for new filtration treatment. Our goal is to install new filtration treatment within a reasonable timeline; the wells that need it most will see filtration within the next three to five years; installations will be prioritized based on the amount of minerals in the water and the volume of capacity for each well;
  • Areas with moderate levels will be treated with operational process improvements to better overall water aesthetics;
  • Systems with little to no iron and manganese presence will be monitored and treated as needed.

All Aqua’s systems are monitored on an ongoing basis to help ensure safety and overall quality of the water source. We are also employing an aggressive water quality operations plan to help make sure water consistently flows clear. That means an increase in scheduled system flushing in many communities and a robust tank-cleaning program that spans our operation across the state. As we are set to administer proactive work within a specific community, we reach out to customers to make them aware of our work.

In 2018, we also developed a website ( and reached out to our customers with more information about our work. We encourage customers to sign up on the site to receive updates on our progress. 

We are committed to continually improving the service we provide and thank our customers for their patience as we carry out this important work.

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