Citizen concerns prompt council to approve 10 percent increase, close Stallings Road Park well
By Jonathan E. Coleman
It’s not too often that service fee hikes garner applause from the customers who will ultimately shoulder the financial burden. But that was the case for those gathered at Harrisburg Town Hall last week.
Residents will notice an increase in their water and sewer bills after the Harrisburg Town Council voted last week to up rates by 10 percent during a specially-called meeting. The increase comes less than two months after the council approved a four percent water and sewer rate hike as part of the 2008-09 budget.
The unanimous vote for the latest increase came after many residents on the south side of town began complaining about water quality issues related to water coming from the Stallings Road Park well, according to mayor Tim Hagler.
Hagler spent less than 12 minutes outlining the concerns for a packed council chambers before the council vote.
“The drought over the last couple of years has made our community very aware that our current water supply is inadequate,” he said.
Harrisburg garners its water from three sources. A majority of the town’s water is purchased from Concord, with the remainder coming from Charlotte-Mecklenburg utilities and town-owned wells.
“While the wells can help create a more drought resistant system and offset some of the costs of water to the town, they do have some drawbacks,” Hagler said, explaining that groundwater from wells often proves corrosive to hot water heaters and other fixtures.
Some such issues popped up after the town began pumping water from a well at Stallings Road Park, Hagler said.
In response to those concerns, the council, as part of its vote to increase rates by 10 percent, voted to immediately suspend operations at the Stallings Road Park well.
In a letter mailed to Harrisburg water and sewer customers, Public Works Director Todd Taylor wrote that the issues do not pose any sort of health risk to the community.
“Rest assured that all potable water being supplied by the Town is in compliance with all State and Federal regulations and standards,” Taylor wrote.
Shutting down the well, however, will require purchasing more water from Concord to meet customer demand. The Stallings Road well will remain operational, but will only supply water to the park or in case of an emergency.
“When Concord (like Harrisburg) incurs costs, they have no choice but to pass it along to their customer base,” Taylor wrote in a letter to water customers. “In the last month, the fixed rate Concord charges Harrisburg for water has increased 21 percent. These charges are likely to increase even more significantly as Concord pursues the physical transfer of water resources.”
Hagler said, in his conversations with water customers, most were willing to pay more for higher quality water.
“The number of residents I’ve talked to and gotten e-mails from said they do not mind paying additional for the water quality,” he said.
The council also voted to have the Town’s capital committee study and bring back a recommendation in regards to a second well, which provides water to the Heatherstone neighborhood.
The vote brought applause from many in attendance.
The rate increase will be shown in customers next water bill.
• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected]