Residents in Mint Hill’s Ashe Plantation neighborhood are still battling water quality problems.
For a few days, the Aqua North Carolina customers thought they might be seeing improvements, but in the evening on Aug. 2, things took a turn for the worse.
“We had three days of almost clear water,” said Sharon Decker, president of the Ashe Plantation Homeowners Association. “Then water started turning yellow, then reddish-brown, then dark brown with mud in it.”
Decker said that a representative from Aqua visited the neighborhood and worked on the well, but had to shut water off after 10:30 p.m. This left more than 165 homes and another neighborhood running off a single well.
At 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, residents saw the same problem, with water running from yellow to dark brown with mud in it, Decker said.
“Aqua was called each time,” she said. “Remember, we are only on one (well) now, so we had no water we could use that night.”
Decker said Aqua advised residents to run their water until it cleared up.
“That will cost us dearly on our water bill,” she said. “But children need a bath.”
Thomas Roberts, president of Aqua North Carolina, spoke with Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly about the problems.
“Last week we had an issue with one of the wells that serves the community, which resulted in a short period of discolored water for a small group of customers. The discoloration was caused by naturally occurring minerals in the groundwater,” he said in an email. “We responded immediately and decided to take this well out of service until we can resolve the issue.
Our customers’ demands can be met with the other well that is in service for the community.”
According to Decker, she and another resident, Dale Kast, met with Jeff Westmoreland, environmental engineer for the N.C. Division of Environmental Health — Public Water Supply, who tested one of the neighborhood’s wells.
Decker said a representative from Aqua also was present, and told Decker and Kast they couldn’t watch the testing.
“We asked why,” Decker said. “We were asked by Jeff Westmoreland, but (the Aqua representative) said the president, Tom Roberts, of Aqua, said we had to leave.”
According to Decker, Westmoreland said results of the water tests would be available in three weeks.
Angela Hogan, a resident of Ashe Plantation, said she hadn’t had any issues with the water at her home until Monday.
“The water coming out of our upstairs shower is a yellow/brown color,” she said in an email. “We also have little-to-no water pressure. I’m wondering if others on Silver Maple (Lane) are experiencing the same thing.”
Decker said that she has high hopes for a board planning meeting scheduled for Sept. 7, which Roberts, the Aqua president, plans to attend.
“I look forward to hearing from Aqua’s customers,” Roberts said in an email.
Decker outlined three major problems for Ashe Plantation that she and other homeowners want addressed at the meeting: price, quality and state responsibility.
“Abnormally high water bills — Aqua said it gets permission from the state for all its water rates,” she said.
Residents of Ashe Planation have been paying uncommonly high water bills, despite its poor quality, she said. Decker recently had a bill in excess of $200.
“People are scared to drink the water and cannot live without water filters, which are saturated with muddy buildup after just a few months,” Decker explained. “The state utilities commission said the company has had some complaints, but not an unusual number.”
Decker said homeowners in the area are dissatisfied with the state’s efforts thus far.
“We feel that the North Carolina Utilities Commission needs to be involved more in what is going on with Aqua,” she said. “Who is looking out for the safety of the customer?”
Abbie Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org