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‘They let it ride until I filed a complaint’: Local utility company ordered to replace old water meters after years of complaints

WBTV Investigates: Homeowners at Rocky River in Harrisburg said they had been enduring problems with their utility Water Resources Inc. for years before finally taking action
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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HARRISBURG, N.C. (WBTV) - A local utility that’s been the subject of a months-long WBTV investigation has been ordered to replace its old water meters after years of customer complaints.

The new order comes from the North Carolina Utilities Commission and WBTV’s stories have been used as evidence and in testimony throughout the hearings.

Homeowners at Rocky River in Harrisburg said they had been enduring problems with their utility Water Resources Inc. for years before finally taking action.

Previous: Lawmakers take note of WBTV Investigation into water utility

Leaking meters, muddy water and poor customer service often plagued their experience.

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

Our investigations attracted the attention of lawmakers but its customers’ complaints to the North Carolina Utilities Commission finally started gaining some traction.

Related: Complaint filed against local utility company

“It’s now almost 30 years and we’ve had a lot of water meters leaking and he won’t come out and replace them,” Devitto said.

Devitto filed one of those complaints.

In 2018, Water Resources received permission from the Utilities Commission to raise rates on customers, with the caveat that they replace the aging and leaking meters.

Three years later, that had never been done.

“They let it ride until I filed a complaint,” Devitto said.

Now the Utilities Commission is giving Water Resources four months to complete the project, according to an order issued in Devitto’s complaint.

Eric Olsen also filed a complaint against Water Resources for failing to fix a leaking meter and poor response from customer service. He recently had a hearing in his case.

“Despite what he would have you believe in his testimony, denying responsibility and being unreachable seems to be more of Water Resources business model and not an oversight limited to this incident,” Olsen told the Commission.

Water Resources owner Dennis Abbott told the Utilities Commission he hired new staff to help customers.

But he’s also filed for another rate increase, claiming he can’t afford to make the improvements necessary.

“Water Resources was still not going to have enough money to meet its operations,” Abbott told the Commission.

In a statement to WBTV, Abbott wrote “Water Resources is committed to delivering a quality experience for all of our customers. We always welcome feedback from any and all of our customers as to how we can improve our services.”

Customers in Rocky River are hoping the rate increase is denied, at least.

“They need to go ahead and hold them accountable to replace those water meters and no rate increase to cover that cost,” Devitto said.

“I would ask the commission to remove Water Resources as our provider,” Olsen told the Commission.

If you have a tip or complaint that you want WBTV to investigate, email our team at investigates@wbtv.com.

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