Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina Encourages Customers to Consider Payment Plans or Payment Arrangements Before November 1, 2020 Restart of Disconnections

Sep 15, 2020

Carolina Water Service understands the impact COVID-19 has had on many households and asks those who are experiencing payment difficulties to contact our Customer Service Department for assistance at (800) 525-7990. On November 1, 2020, CWSNC will restart disconnects for non-payment.

We greatly appreciate those customers who have been able to keep their accounts current during this crisis, but we understand that many have not been as fortunate. Some households will feel the impact of lost income for months to come. That is why we are offering deferred payment arrangements and payment plans to customers who may not be able to stay current on their water and sewer bills.

  • payment plan is an agreement with a customer to make a specified payment by a specified date. For example, a customer may agree to pay a balance ten days beyond the bill’s due date.  
  • payment arrangement is an agreement with a customer to pay off their balance in combination with future bills, which installments are reflected on monthly customer bills. 

CWSNC is encouraging customers to establish a payment plan or payment arrangement that best meets their needs. The Commission has required payment arrangements be designed to spread past due balances over a 12-month period, though shorter terms may be used if it best suits the customer’s situation.[1] 

Customers with active payment arrangements will avoid disconnection action and potential future late fees, as long as they remain up to date with the arrangement and their current period billed charges.

CWSNC asks customers with past-due account balances contact our Customer Service Department as soon as possible.  Customers may set up either a payment plan or payment arrangement by calling our Customer Service Department at (800) 525-7990.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many North Carolinians and created financial and emotional hardships.  In addition to extended payment arrangements and a continued moratorium on utility late payment fees, 211.org may also be able to help.  This free service can help you find local community agencies providing a wide range of assistance.  Please visit https://www.211.org/ or dial 211 from your phone to start.

[1] On July 29, 2020, in Docket No. M-100 Sub 158, The North Carolina Utilities Commission (Commission) provided additional clarification for regulated utilities on the timing of the restart of disconnects and payment of fees. The Commission stated disconnects due to non-payment could begin on September 1, 2020.  However, late fees will continue to be waived until further direction is provided by the Commission.

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Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina Hurricane Isaias Preparedness Update

Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) is preparing for the potential landfall and aftermath of Hurricane Isaias .  CWSNC has activated its emergency management procedures in anticipation of the potential impact from the wind, rain, and flooding associated with a hurricane of this potential magnitude. Our operators will respond as  quickly as possible to any issues related to the hurricane, putting the safety of our customers and employees first.

CWSNC operators are working diligently to ensure all on-site and portable redundant generator power sources are tested, able to operate efficiently, and supplied with sufficient backup fuel supplies in the event of power loss to the water infrastructure.  Additionally, CWSNC operators are evaluating and securing  all supplies necessary for the water and wastewater plants to maintain operations for prolonged periods in the event roadways are impassable immediately after the hurricane.  Operational personnel may be reallocated to assist with maintaining operations at our Eastern North Carolina systems.

Due to the Covid – 19 virus, our employees  will observe physical distancing; and they’ll use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) in field and plant work. Please refrain from engaging our employees unless an emergency situation arises.

Operators are relocating generators from our Western North Carolina service areas to ensure continuity of service in our Eastern North Carolina communities.

Fuel carts are ready to provide needed fuel to our generators on the coast to supply generators.

CWSNC works diligently during any storm or emergency to keep our water and wastewater services running.  However, in some instances, there may be a disruption in the service to allow CWSNC to take a system off-line to make needed repairs.

The My Utility Connect application is how CWSNC primarily communicates with our customers. They can choose to receive notifications via text, email, mobile device, or landline calls.

Updates regarding our preparation and response post hurricane will also be posted on our website https://www.myutility.us/carolinawaterservicenc and social media accounts—Facebook and Twitter (@CarolinaWaterNC) to keep customers informed.

Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources – Be Prepared

Hurricanes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. On average, 12 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. In

Over a typical 2-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, 1 of which is classified as a major hurricane (winds of 111 mph or greater). By knowing what actions to take before the hurricane season begins, when a hurricane approaches, and when the storm is in your area, as well as what to do after a hurricane leaves your area, you can increase your chance of survival. If you, or someone you know, have been a victim of a hurricane, please share your story, including the town and state you were in and the year the event took place.. Please note that NS will then have permission to use your story for educational campaigns. Sharing this information may help save someone’s life in the future. Read stories from survivors and learn how to stay safe.

Hurricane Hazards

While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.

  • Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast.
  • Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries.
  • Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
  • Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.
  • Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
  • Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.

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

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.