Homeowners having to pay $175 a week for water?

RALEIGH It's a problem they continue to blame on a local utility company -- Aqua America.

Royce Dunnivan is the latest homeowner in Norwood Oaks to see his private well run dry.

"We've been doing our laundry at the laundromat," he said. "We've been taking showers at the gym we belong to."

Just a day before, homeowner Mark Finnicum suffered a similar fate.

"Just like that, done. Haven't had it back since," he said.

The neighborhood has blamed Aqua for over-pumping nearby community wells, leaving their properties dry.

Then just this week, officials announced that residents must find a different source of water or leave.

"It was necessary for us to declare an imminent health hazard, or issue a notice of potential imminent health hazard," Wake County Director of Environmental Services Tommy Esqueda said.

So the county offered to deliver water for $175 per 1,000 gallons -- about a week's worth for a family of four.

However, they're getting the water for free from Aqua. So residents say the delivery fee is hard to take.

"I'm paying for my own water it looks like to me that's what it feels like. Dunnivan said.

Aqua says it's sympathetic, but is doing nothing wrong.

The county is investigating whether Aqua's pumping is posing a nuisance. But the investigation could take at least five months.

In the meantime, Aqua says the easy fix is to hook the neighborhood to their system.

"They're taking it from us and they want us to buy it back from them. Not fair," Finnicum said.

So now residents are looking for other options.

"If we can get an injunction against them we would certainly pursue that," Kavelak said. "My fear is that we're just the tip of the iceberg. If this continues, this neighborhood's going to go and pretty soon we're going to see a lot more."

Meanwhile, the county says early data seems to suggest a link between Aqua's wells and the private ones, but there's nothing definitive. The county has asked Aqua to set up more specific monitoring and provide more data.

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