The Current 2020 Rates – What you Need to Know

About CWSNC

On June 28, 2019, Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) filed a rate case with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). Docket number is W-354, Sub 364. CWSNC is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Company presently serves approximately 34,915 water customers and 21,403 sewer customers in North Carolina and operates approximately 93 water systems and 38 sewer systems in the State.

The Company’s service territory spans 38 counties in North Carolina, from Corolla in Currituck County to Bear Paw in Cherokee County. CWSNC applied for an adjustment in water and sewer rates and charges for all of its service areas in North Carolina.

COVID-19.  As a result of COVID-19 and until some  point in the future, CWSNC has reconnected all customers disconnected for non-payment, suspended all future disconnects, and has ceased collecting and billing late payment charges.

While we know that there is no good time for a rate increase, we also understand the impacts of a rate increase during this unprecedented period and are committed to working with our customers during and after the state of emergency. Once the pandemic-related orders are lifted by the Governor’s office and the NC Utilities Commission, we will provide payment plans or payment arrangements for customers impacted financially by the COVID-19 virus.  That said,  customers may  now contact the Company at any time to request a payment arrangement or payment plan.

Rate Cases.  CWSNC’s previous rate case (Docket W-354, Sub 360) was filed on April 27, 2018, and an order was issued approving the consolidated rates, which were   in effect from  February 21, 2019 until the Company’s new rates were approved on March 31, 2020, in Docket W-354, Sub 364.  From the filing of the 2018 rate case until the date of the Commission’s order in March of this year, CWSNC spent over $22 million to provide service in North Carolina.  These investments were  reasonable and necessary, they are installed and providing service to customers,  and it is thus necessary that the costs be recovered in rates.

Customers’ rates are based on a thorough cost, operations, and quality of service examination by the Public Staff,  NC Attorney General’s Office, other intervenors in the proceeding, and by the NC Utilities Commission itself. In addition, customers may provide comments and feedback during the public hearings held throughout the Company’s service territory during the course of the rate case process. The proper level of rates to be charged by the Company to facilitate proper service to its customers is ultimately approved by the NCUC commissioners.

The cost of service and tariff rate proposals are more fully explained in CWSNC’s rate filing documentation, which is made publicly available through the Commission’s website. All parties interested in this matter may obtain information either directly from CWSNC or by addressing the Secretary of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, 430 North Salisbury Street, Dobbs Building, 5th Floor, Raleigh, NC 27603-5918. Customers may also visit the NCUC website and search Docket “W-354 Sub 364” at https://starw1.ncuc.net/NCUC/page/Dockets/portal.aspx.

The total rate increase authorized by the Commission’s March order  was 14.56%, which for the Uniform Water Rate Division was 9.73%, and for Uniform Sewer was 22.56%.  Bradfield/Fairfield Water was 7.21%, and its Sewer was 6.77%. See the chart below for detailed information.

We have the responsibility to upgrade our infrastructure and make the necessary improvements to continue to provide quality service. We also must comply with changing state and federal environmental regulations and maintain a safe working environment for our employees. It is well-understood that water and sewer infrastructure across the country is aging and in need of significant investment to maintain proper service and address environmental concerns.

Many of the Company’s systems are reaching the end of their useful life and must be replaced, rehabilitated, or upgraded to avoid system failures. To that end, CWSNC has invested over $22 million in capital improvements since its last rate case, which is not included in prior rates.

It is important to note that all investments driving the requested increase have already been incurred by the Company and are providing service to customers before a change in rates is implemented. 

WSIC/SSIC.  As of March 31, 2020, the WSIC/SSIC surcharges were reset to $0. These charges may resume in the future should the Company continue to invest in eligible improvements in its water and sewer infrastructure and would be subject to  rigorous review and approval by the Commission.

Comparison to rates of other providers.  All providers have individual characteristics of service, source,  density, taxpayer support (or lack thereof),  and financing; therefore, rate comparisons among them lack meaning.   The municipal water companies cannot be  fairly compared to the regulated private water companies for so many reasons—–their funding sources are generally different and include support from taxation policies, they usually enjoy increased density and thus a lower cost per customer to serve,  and they often utilize more efficient surface impoundments for sources of water, to name a few.

CWSNC and other private water companies can only recoup money for maintenance and construction through rates and after the facilities are in use and are useful, which is usually months after the construction or maintenance has occurred. Private water companies also pay property taxes on all their facilities, which is a cost the municipal systems do not incur. Further, these regulated companies rely for much of their service on a large, un-networked system of individual wells and smaller sewer plants, spread across a large swath of the state in areas that are, generally, less populated.

What is changing with my water and sewer rates?
The table below shows a comparison of average water and sewer bills at old and new rates for a 5/8” residential customer.

Entity Avg. Billed Gallons Present Monthly Bill New Monthly Bill Amount Change % Change
Uniform Water                         3,607  $                     53.07  $                58.75  $                5.68 11%
Uniform Sewer                         3,569  $                     59.23  $                75.29  $              16.06 27%

A comparison of the new authorized rates for Uniform Water is below.

 Residential Water Old Rates New Rates
Meter Size Base Rate Usage Rate Base Rate Usage Rate
Unmetered  $                53.58  $                58.54
5/8″  $                27.53  $                  7.08  $                28.92 $8.27
3/4″  $                27.53  $                  7.08  $                28.92 $8.27
1″  $                68.83  $                  7.08  $                72.30 $8.27
1.5″  $              137.65  $                  7.08  $              144.60 $8.27
2″  $              220.24  $                  7.08  $              231.36 $8.27

A comparison of the new authorized rates for Uniform Sewer is below.

Residential Sewer  Old Rates New Rates
Meter Size Base Rate Usage Rate Base Rate Usage Rate
Flat  $                57.82  $                73.73
Base Charge  $                46.31  $                  3.62  $                58.91 $4.59

Please do not hesitate to contact me at deb.clark@corixgroup.com if you have any further questions.

Deborah S. Clark
Community Relations Manager

Important Information for Reopening your Business, Church, School, Rental Property, or Vacation Home Post COVID – 19 Pandemic

As a result of the pandemic, many of our customers may have temporarily closed businesses, churches, school buildings, or a vacation rental/home.  Water that is held unused in pipes while the buildings are closed can become stagnant and produce undesirable tastes or odors when the building is reopened and water use is returned to normal.

To avoid these problems, it is recommended all customers take precautionary actions to minimize water quality complaints when buildings or homes reopen.
The building plumbing, including water heaters, should be thoroughly flushed before reopening for normal use.

Thorough flushing includes operating all sink, tub, shower, and toilet fixtures. Safety equipment, such as eye washes, safety showers, and fire sprinkler systems may also require assessment and necessary maintenance.

Water features inside and outside buildings, hot tubs/spas, and cooling towers also can require attention.  The Center for Disease Control CDC) has very detailed information on reactivating plumbing systems after dormant conditions on its website at the link below:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

Important Information for Reopening your Business, Church, School, Rental Property, or Vacation Home Post COVID – 19 Pandemic

As a result of the pandemic, many of our customers may have temporarily closed businesses, churches, school buildings, or a vacation rental/home.  Water that is held unused in pipes while the buildings are closed can become stagnant and produce undesirable tastes or odors when the building is reopened and water use is returned to normal.

To avoid these problems, it is recommended all customers take precautionary actions to minimize water quality complaints when buildings or homes reopen.
The building plumbing, including water heaters, should be thoroughly flushed before reopening for normal use.

Thorough flushing includes operating all sink, tub, shower, and toilet fixtures. Safety equipment, such as eye washes, safety showers, and fire sprinkler systems may also require assessment and necessary maintenance.

Water features inside and outside buildings, hot tubs/spas, and cooling towers also can require attention.  The Center for Disease Control CDC) has very detailed information on reactivating plumbing systems after dormant conditions on its website at the link below:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

BOIL WATER ADVISORY RESCINDED 4/15/2020

Sapphire – Power Outage and Boil Water Advisory – RESCINDED

Please be advised that the previously issued Boil Advisory has been rescinded. It is no longer necessary for customers to boil water for human consumption (including, drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation)

Again, the boil advisory has been rescinded. The water sample results from the laboratory confirmed that your water continues to be safe and you no longer have to boil your water.

Please be advised that this boil water advisory is directly related to the power outage in your area and is not related in any way to COVID-19. If you have any questions about our response to COVID-19, please see our website or guidance provided by the EPA at www.epa.gov/coronoavirus.

Vigorous boiling for one minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present in the water.

Customers will be notified by a second phone notification message once the Boil Advisory has been rescinded.

This has been a courtesy call from Carolina Water Service Inc of North Carolina, your local water provider.  We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.  If you should have any questions or concerns, please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-525-7990

 

Please only Flush TOILET PAPER!

Disinfectant wet wipes, paper towels and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. These products help keep us clean and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But when we remember that products like baby wipes and wet wipes are not as “flushable” as typically advertised, it’s no surprise that we’re now at a greater risk for sewer blockages in our communities.

If TP isn’t available, it’s easy to reach for an alternative – but keep in mind these wipes need to stay out of our pipes, period. Keep a bin next to the toilet for disposal! Do with wet wipes what you’d do with a baby’s diaper or other hygiene products.

When “flushable” wipes enter your plumbing system, they don’t disintegrate like regular ol’ toilet paper. They often hold together better than a paper towel and they require more water to travel the distance from inside your house to the buried sewer lines outside. At some point in this journey, you’re going to get a clog! If wipes survive the trip to the water treatment plant, they just clog up the giant pumps there, creating even bigger problems.

So now that we’re never flushing our wet wipes again, are you wondering what else doesn’t belong down the drain? Read this quick list of items we’re all guilty of tossing… Now here’s to helping our pipes stay clog-free.

  1. Q-Tips and cotton balls – They will never disintegrate like TP, so don’t flush ‘em.
  2. Feminine hygiene products – Pads and tampons are meant to absorb liquids, not break down in them. They are never safe to flush.
  3. Dental floss – Floss might look harmless, but this stuff is tough. It can create a net when it’s swishing around in your pipes and wrap around parts of your septic system, even burning out the motor.
  4. Diapers – No no no no no! Diaper pails exist for a reason.
  5. Condoms – They’re designed to never break down in water. Put it in the trash.
  6. Medication – Toilet water doesn’t break down the prescription drugs you flush, meaning that whatever you’re taking will end up in the environment. Throw into the trash or return it to a pharmacy.
  7. Kitty Litter – Some cat litter brands advertise as being flushable, but don’t believe the hype. All it does is make water more difficult to purify on the other end.
  8. Cigarettes – Ciggie butts are full of chemicals! Don’t smoke them and don’t flush them.
  9. Hair – When flushed, hair acts like dental floss and creates a net that gets caught on everything. Plus, it never dissolves in water, no matter how long its there.
  10. Bleach – It’s too harsh of a chemical to use as a part of your routine cleaning, try getting toilet stains out with vinegar instead.

And of course, no fats, oils or grease, either! But more on that later.

CAROLINA WATER SERVICE, INC. OF NORTH CAROLINA ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF WATER SHUTOFFS

Delinquent Accounts Will Not Be Cut and Suspended Accounts Restored

COVID-19 customer service number – 1-800-272-1919

Charlotte, NC – Don Denton, President of Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC), has announced that CWSNC will be suspending water service shutoffs for delinquent payments in all its service territory effective immediately. Additionally, the company will begin reconnecting service to those customers who are currently not receiving water service due to lack of payment on delinquent accounts.

“As a public utility, CWSNC  understands our obligations to the communities we serve including the personal safety of our neighbors through personal sanitation,” said Denton. “We know a safe and reliable source of potable water is vital for hand washing, surface cleaning, and all other measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”

CWSNC  customers impacted by this decision will be notified as quickly as possible and reconnections will begin promptly. Denton indicated that the policy will remain in effect until at least March 30 and will be reevaluated at that time considering the prevailing COVID-19 conditions.  Customers who are behind on their bills are encouraged to bring them current or discuss their options with CWSNC  customer service as the suspension of shutoffs is only temporary.

“Maintaining service to our customers is a simple decision for us as we encourage everyone to follow the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to protect themselves and their families,” Denton added.

To Flush or Not to Flush? We have the Answers to this Question!

Today, there are many products on the market that promise the consumer that it is flushable. Baby wipes, clean wipes, feminine hygiene items such as tampons, adult diapers, and multi-layer toilet paper cleaning wipes, and even pre-moistened towelettes all claim to be flushable. But guess what? This is not the truth.

The truth is that these products create blockages in the sewer system and your lines costing up to thousands of dollars to repair. Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) crews spend hours clearing the wall of wipes out of our wastewater treatment plants. Some people say, “well it went down the toilet fine.” However, once it hits a bend in the line, it gets stuck and if everyone flushes a lot of these items, then we have blocked sewer lines.

There are only three things that you can flush down the toilet – urine, feces and toilet paper. Just remember that the only this to flush is human waste, or the three Ps: pee, poo, and paper.

Here is a list of things not to flush.

Paper Towels
Cosmetic Wipes
Baby Wipes
Condoms
Tampons and Pads
Dental Floss
Contact Lenses
Cotton Swabs
Diapers – baby or adult
Facial Tissues
Medication
Cigarette Butts
Hair
Chewing Gums and any Food
Cooking Grease and Oil
Bleach
Band-Aids
Paint
Cat Litter
Dryer Sheets
Cotton balls

The toilet was invented only to dispose of human waste and if you use it for other than this one purpose, you damage your plumbing, cause the community to face sewer issues and can pollute the water supply in some instances. Flush smart and help CWSNC keep our wastewater treatment systems working to their greatest capacity!

 

 

A Boil Water Advisory – What is this and What do I do?

You receive a call, text or email about a water main break and a boil water advisory from Carolina Water Service. But what does this mean? Is my water safe to use? What do I do? Below is information about what a Boil Water Advisory is and what you need to do to keep your family safe during these notices.

A Boil Water Advisory is a public health recommendation from Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) advising customers to boil their tap water before using it. This is in response to an event that could have allowed contaminants to enter the water distribution system. Because the water quality is unknown, customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink and take the necessary precautions listed below.

When does CWSNC issue a Boil Water Advisory?
Typically, we issue a Boil Water Advisory after a water main break repair, small or widespread loss of pressure in our water system, or a natural disaster.

In some cases, our crews can repair a water main while maintaining adequate pressure to prevent contamination from entering the water distribution system. (When we do a repair in this way, no Boil Water Advisory is needed.)

When we issue a Boil Water Advisory, we notify only the customers affected. If the risk of contamination is widespread, CWSNC will put information on our website, notify customers using our My Utility Connect application to inform the public. You can also find these notifications on our website under the Service Alerts Tab – the red tab at the top right corner of the website.

How long will a Boil Water Advisory be in effect?
An advisory will remain in effect until bacteriological test samples show the water is safe to drink. Bacteriological testing typically takes 24 to 28 hours to complete.

What should I do during a Boil Water Advisory?
Boil tap water before using it for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth or preparing food. Bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute and let it cool.

Should I use my coffee maker, water or ice dispenser when a boil water advisory is in effect?
During an advisory, do not use water from any appliance connected to your water lines. This includes water and ice dispensers in your refrigerator/freezer. Use boiled or bottled water to make coffee and ice.

How should I wash dishes during a Boil Water Advisory?
Household dishwashers are generally safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle.

To wash dishes by hand:
Use boiled water; or wash and rinse dishes as normal. Then in a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household bleach for each gallon of warm water. Soak dishes in basin for a least 1 minute. Let dishes air dry completely.

Should I bathe or shower during a Boil Water Advisory?
It is safe to bath or shower but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

Can I wash my hands during a boil water advisory?
Yes, vigorous handwashing with soap and your tap water is safe for basic personal hygiene. However, if you are washing your hands to prepare food, you should use boiled (then cooled) water, disinfected or bottled water with hand washing soap.

What if I drank some of the water before I found out about the advisory?
This advisory was issued as a precaution, so your risk of getting sick is very low. However, if you begin to have a fever, diarrhea, or nausea you should seek medical attention.

How will I know when the advisory or notice has been lifted?
CWSNC will rescind the Boil Water Advisory when the results from the testing have been confirmed that the water is safe to drink. You will receive your notification the same way you were informed of the advisory.

Is a Boil Water ADVISORY the same as a Boil Water NOTICE? NO!
We issue a Boil Water Advisory when water contamination is possible. In an advisory, we recommend that affected customers boil CWSNC water before consumption or use bottled water. A Boil Water Advisory is voluntarily issued when water contamination is possible. We provide the notification as a courtesy to keep our customers safe just in case.  During an advisory we recommend that customers vigorously boil water for at least 1 minute before consumption or drink bottled water.

We issue a Boil Water Notice when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, affected customers must boil their water before consumption or use bottled water. A Boil Water Notice is required by law to be issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, affected customers must boil water before consumption or use bottled water.

If you have any questions, call our Customer Service Department at (800) 525-7990

 

FATS, OILS, and GREASE – OH MY!

Bacon! Sizzling in the frying pan, browning to perfection, ready to be applied to that lettuce, bacon and tomato sandwich – YUM!

But what should you do with the remaining grease? Pour it down the sink!?!?

Simple! Follow our guidelines for how to properly dispose of fats, oils, and grease or FOG!

First, NEVER pour fats, oils or grease down the sink!  This could result in a Sanitary Sewer Overflow.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) occur when untreated wastewater flows from the collection system and into the environment due to abnormal causes.

A wide variety of factors can cause an SSO but the leading cause for decades has been Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG). These substances, when poured down the drain, solidify in the sewer pipes and cause blockages that do not allow normal wastewater to flow.

If the blockage becomes large enough, normal wastewater flow will begin to back up and release elsewhere, such as a manhole or cleanout.  The untreated wastewater then flows freely into storm drains, creeks and lakes that can have a severe impact. YUCK!

Here are some examples of FOG that you should never put down the drain.

FATS

  • Cheeses
  • Ice Cream
  • Butter
  • Meat Trimmings

 OILS

  • Salad Dressings
  • Cooking Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Corn Oil

GREASE

  • Gravy
  • Bacon/Sausage
  • Mayonnaise

So, how do you properly dispose of fog? Easy!  Scrape all pans into garbage. Then Dry Wipe pan with paper towel and dispose of in garbage. Pour liquid oil or grease into solid container (ex: glass jar, metal coffee can etc.) and allow to cool and solidify. Then toss in garbage. Contact your local government to see if they have a cooking oil recycling program.

 

A new major factor that has been contributing to SSOs has been Flushable wipes. Although these wipes are flushable, they do not break down like normal tissue paper does. As a result, these wipes get stuck in the sewer pipes and the pumps that move the wastewater. If you use these wipes, please dispose of them in the garbage not the toilet.

Enjoy your bacon but be responsible and properly dispose of that grease!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to prevent frozen pipes!

Brrr. It is getting colder and colder with winter nipping at our noses! Now is the time to take precautions to prevent frozen pipes. Below are some tips to help you prepare for the winter season!
Winter weather brings icy winds and dipping temperatures which can do a lot of damage to your home by freezing pipes and leaving you without flowing water. There are many precautions you can take now to help you avoid the expense and inconvenience of frozen pipes during an extended cold spell.

frozen
Before Freezing Weather
1. Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets. If your home has a separate shut-off valve for outside faucets (usually located in the basement or crawl space) then use it to shut the water off to your outside faucets. Then go outside and turn on the faucets to drain water from the line. If your home does not have a separate shut-off valve for outside faucets, then wrap each outside faucet with insulation or newspaper.

2. Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas such as the garage, crawl space, or attic. Check with your local home improvement store for which materials to use to insulate your pipes.

3. Show household members how to turn off water to the house in case of emergencies. The main shut-off valve is often located near the water heater or the washing machine. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house – kitchen, bath, basement, or crawl space – this valve turns it off.

4. Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow devices. Wrap backflow devices with insulating material.

5. Cover foundation vents with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper, or cardboard.

During Freezing Weather
1. Leave the heat on at least 55 degrees and open cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in outside walls, to let interior heat warm the pipes.

2. Temporarily, keep a steady drip of cold water at an inside faucet farthest from the meter. This keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze.

3. If you are away for any length of time, you may consider shutting off your home’s water to reduce the chances of frozen or broken pipes. Contact your water provider for more information on how to do this.

4. Have your plumber and water provider’s telephone number handy. During an extended cold spell, your pipes might freeze despite the best precautions.

If Your Pipes Freeze
1. Determine which pipe(s) are frozen. If some faucets work but others don’t, that means pipes inside your home are likely frozen. If none of your faucets work, there may be a problem at the street – contact your water provider.

2. Find the frozen pipe(s) and attempt to thaw them with a hair dryer using a low setting. Wave the hair dryer back and forth along the frozen area. NEVER thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame.

3. Shut off water and power (or gas) to the water heater if you have a leak or a broken pipe. Contact your water provider if you are unable to find the shut-off valve or the valve doesn’t work. Check with a plumber or home improvement store for leak repair supplies