Water provider in Cabarrus County neglects to fix problem after radium contaminants shutdown well

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:52 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Two Cabarrus County communities are fed up with their water provider after a stack of violations and poor customer service.

In May, the WBTV Investigates Team spotlighted neighbors left waiting for years to repair simple leaks in water meters.

New records uncovered by WBTV show there are even bigger issues that threaten the safety of the neighborhood.

Lenny DeVitto contacted WBTV after he saw WBTV’s first story about Water Resources Inc and owner Dennis Abbott. The company provides well water to Rocky River Plantation and one other community in Cabarrus County. A group of neighbors were fed up that leaks in their meters weren’t being fixed for years.

But DeVitto has been stuck with issues like this for years.

“You actually get mud coming through these pipes that comes out in your toilets, into your water heater, into your shower,” DeVitto said.

“In the summer we’ve had issues where that one well will go out. It runs out of water.”

Records from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality show that in August of 2019, one of Water Resources two wells had unacceptable levels of Radium Contaminants and the well had to be taken offline.

To stay in compliance with state regulations Water Resources was required to hook up to another water source. More than a year later the company still hasn’t.

DEQ has fined Water Resources $4,500 but Water Resources hasn’t paid.

Residents in this community are stuck relying on one well.

“If that only remaining well goes out, you’re going to have about 200 customers without water,” DeVitto said.

Other records obtained by WBTV show that money might be an issue. A contractor working for Water Resources and Abbott filed a lawsuit against the company for failing to pay him more than $4,000. The lawsuit also contained records of three other violations and issues with DEQ including failing to report lead and copper levels to the department.

WBTV tried reaching Water Resources before by going to their office, but the location only had the name of another company owned by Abbott, FirstService Residential.

In an email to WBTV Abbott said that the radium well issue “Is not a water quality issue” and “we expect to have the issue resolved in the near future.”

In a letter Abbott sent to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Abbott said he will establish a separate office for Water Resources and will take other steps to improve. He wrote “Water Resources has fallen short of meeting the Commission’s reasonable expectations for how a water utility should be run.”

“Based on what I know about the company and the way it’s operated in the past, I don’t have much hope that that’s going to be the case,” Rocky River resident Eric Olsen said.

Olsen contacted WBTV about his leaking meter and since WBTV aired its first story in May, the issue has been addressed, but according to Olsen, not entirely.

“I don’t see it as a long term fix. The plumbers that were out here were kind of marveling at how haphazard it was,” Olsen said referring to the meter in front of his house.

Both Olsen and Devitto are frustrated with Water Resources but also place responsibility at the feet of the Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Quality.

“A lot of my frustration now at this point is with them, because that’s what they’re there for,” Olsen said.

“They’re not holding him accountable, and that’s been the problem over the years,” DeVitto said.

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