Carolina Water customers sound off on proposed rate hike

More than 200 Carolina Water customers attended Wednesday's public hearing.

LEXINGTON (WACH) -- A public hearing on a proposed rate hike by Carolina Water Service was flooded Wednesday by more than 200 Midlands residents and business owners.

The utility is requesting an 80 percent increase in its water rate and a 14 percent increase in its sewer rate.

CWS hopes to recoup $10 million from its customers for money spent since 2005 on various improvement and maintenance projects.

According to company officials, it TMs estimated the average bill for 7,000 gallons of water is $35.94 which would go up to $65.20 a month. The $39 sewer charge would increase by $5.32 a month.

CWS provides water and sewer to 16,000 people across nine counties in South Carolina. The majority of its customers live in Lexington and many of them voiced their opinions about the utility and its proposal at Wednesday TMs public hearing.

There is nobody in this room that has a bill based on the rate information they gave you all and it is going to be much more, says Sen. Jake Knotts R-Lexington.

I have 7,000 gallons as a current bill is about $35, but in actuality I use 3,000 gallons a month and my bill is $35 a month, adds Carolina Water customer Chris Gordon.

This is outrageous, this is excessive, this is exorbitant, and this is unconstitutional, says James Manning of Lexington.

Other complaints by customers included: inaccuracies in billing, poor communication skills, failure to fix broken pipes and quality issues.

The Office of Regulatory Staff reports from October 2010 to July 2011 residents have filed 45 complaints about CWS.

Chief Operating Officer John Hoy told WACH Fox that CWS is committed to addressing customers' needs, and they were at the public hearing to listen. When asked about the proposed rate increase, Hoy said there is never a good time to raise rates but must be done in order to meet federal and state requirements.

The next public hearing on the issue will be held on September 7 at 6:00p.m. inside the Public Service Commission located on 101 Executive Center Drive in Columbia.

What do you think about the proposed 80 percent rate hike?