Cover Story: Water woes

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

Posted by Sarah Hildmann - email

CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - People in North Mecklenburg County say they're getting hosed by high water bills. Some of the bills have jumped hundreds of dollars, in just one month. Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department is responding to their concerns, but so far, no resolution.

Lillian Regan showed us her water bills from the last three months. From her August bill of $83.26 her water bill jumped to $250.30 cents in September. It jumped again to $386.00 in October, and in November it was $372.00

"I'm a single person living here and I'm not here everyday of the month. I can't explain it.  There's something very very wrong," said Regan.

Regan has an irrigation system like most neighbors in the Peninsula community, but even neighbors say she doesn't run it that often.

Regan says she shuts off her water when she goes out of town. During the three months in question she's been gone a total of 27 days.

According to her water bills for September, October and November if you add up
 the gallons of water the bills say she's used it comes to 118,000 gallons of water.

Consider an average family throughout the entire year uses an average of less than
6,000 gallons of water a month.

"That sense of powerless who's helping no one's.  There's no recourse whatsoever. 
I'm hoping as a community we can look into the situation before this happens again," says Regan.

Neighbors in the Peninsula community where most homes have irrigation systems have been particularly vocal, but Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte says he's heard from neighbors from Davidson and the surrounding area who believe they've seen the same problem.

Tarte says CMUD has been responsive and crews have come out to neighbor's homes to check the lines and in each case find the meter is working fine. When homeowners have hired plummers to check for leaks they find none.

"Most neighbors come back and said they can't find anything.  Now we've got a connundrum. 
 Nobody can determine why the high water bill and high water usage," says Mayor Jeff Tarte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities says it's not found a trend or any indication there are problems with any of the meters or with billing.

"Nobody's trying to point fingers at all.  It's let's find what the problem is.. come up with a solution to address it," says Regan.