Lawmakers take note of WBTV Investigation into water utility

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A WBTV Investigation into a water utility in Cabarrus County has attracted the attention of state lawmakers.

Previous stories from the WBTV Investigates Team highlight issues with leaks in water meters and radium contaminants in a water well that are managed by Water Resources Inc.

Several residents reached out to State Senator Paul Newton about the problems. In an interview with WBTV, Newton said his office is now paying attention.

“There’s no doubt that what’s happening with them is unacceptable,” Senator Newton said.

Both the North Carolina Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Quality help regulate utilities like Water Resources Inc.

However, both agencies have been slow to enforce missed deadlines by Water Resources.

Water Resources owner Dennis Abbott was several months late in responding to a complaint filed by a resident and the Utilities Commission did not schedule a hearing until two months after he was required to respond.

The Department of Environmental Quality and Public Water Supply Section required Water Resources to hook up to another water supply when one of the wells was taken offline. One year later and Water Resources had still not found a solution but the PWS waited another two months past the deadline before fining Water Resources $4,500. The company has still not paid.

“DEQ has a division specifically designed to manage these problems and why it hasn’t been completed yet I don’t know, and I’m not intending to throw DEQ under the bus here because I don’t know the details of their decision making around this, but it’s in the right hands now and my my team is working with them to facilitate,” Senator Newton said.

In an email to WBTV, a spokesperson for DEQ wrote that PWS “requested assistance from DEQ’s Office of General Council to refer this matter to the Attorney General’s office to purse collection and injunctive relief. On June 9, 2021 the injunction request was submitted on behalf of the PWS Section, by the DEQ Office of General Council, to the Attorney General’s office.”

“My constituents have waited long enough so we’re expecting to hear good things coming out of the queue and if necessary, the Utilities Commission in the very very near future,” Senator Newton said.

In a statement sent to WBTV on June 2, Water Resources owner Dennis Abott wrote that none of the issues threatened the safety of the 200 residents.

“Water Resources takes seriously its obligation to provide quality service to its customers. At no time has there been any threat to the health and safety of our customers. The outstanding fine is an administrative action resulting from a technical compliance issue. It is not a water quality issue. We expect to have the issue resolved in the near future,” Abbott wrote.

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