Organization protests privatization of water system in Carteret County

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 7:51 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) -A group pushing for a public water system to remain just that, showed up at the Carteret County Commissioners meeting Monday night to make their case as some residents face the possibility of their water system being privatized.

Dozens from the organization For Public Water, showed up on the steps of the courthouse, many wearing blue and protesting the two proposed private water companies that want to operate the system.

“We mean business and we do not want this system sold to a for-profit company,” said Carteret County For Public Water organizer, Patrick Kelly.

According to the county, there are about 1,200 homes in the Special Water District, but they’re not the only ones that pay. People with wells in the area also pay a water tax.

Yet with the possibility of a private company coming in, many fear higher rates and lack of quality service. “We don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” said Carteret County resident, Steve Bolding.

This frustration comes as the commissioners consider selling the system. Carteret County Chairman, Ed Wheatly told WITN in March, the county has never made a profit on their current system, that’s why they’re exploring more options.

“Now we’re in the middle of an upset bid process, where two companies are bidding back and forth for the water system,” said Carteret County Commissioner, Chris Chadwick.

The organization took a stand last month at the commissioner’s meeting, speaking out during the public comment portion of the meeting and Monday there’s time specifically devoted to their cause.

“We get a chance to have interaction with them tonight, before we only did public comment tonight we’re on the agenda and they’ll be back and forth with us,” said Bolding.

“This is a listening meeting to listen to what the people have to say,” said Commissioner Chadwick.

While a decision will not be made Monday night, Kelly remains optimistic for a better solution.

“We’re hoping to come to a better understanding of where the county is and why they’re making the decisions they are and what we can do to kinda take the next steps forward,” he said.

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