Granville Co. residents air concerns over dirty water

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Water quality
Dirty water in Granville County.

GRANVILLE COUNTY (WTVD) -- Southern Granville residents filled the 85-maximum capacity town-hall chambers in Butner to talk dirty water.

At the monthly Southern Granville Water and Sewage Authority board meeting Tuesday night, members heard from the public about concerns over water quality in the area.

Last week the ABC11 I-Team brought you a report of how poor water quality could have a connection to higher cancer rates in that area.

Residents took to the podium to talk about concerns with those cancer studies and the overall quality of the water. People complained of a sewage, raw-eggs smell, when they run their water. They also complained of discoloration and having to drink bottled water because they're afraid of what's coming out of their faucet.

Curtis Morton, who lives in Creedmoor, showed us how they scrub their faucets and drains of what appears to be an almost daily buildup of black gunk.

"You're afraid to take a shower, with stuff coming at you," Morton said.

"We are working on a plan to address organic carbon, that we are working to lower the haloacetic number, that's additional expense that we will have, we are going to do that; we are committed to that," said SGWASA Board Chairman Dave Currin.

Currin and fellow board members listened to residents' concerns and wrote them all down on a board at the front of the room. They thanked everyone for coming out and promised to make these issues a priority.

When asked why now, Currin said this is the first time they've gotten together with residents in this capacity to talk about water complaints and that usually not very many people attend their meetings.

"We'll stay diligent on this until we reach a level that we can satisfy as many people as possible," Currin said.

However, addressing water concerns will come at a cost to residents.

"Everything that we do to improve will be an additional expense and we have no other source but to pass it on in terms of our rates," Currin said.

When asked about high water bills residents are already seeing, he talked about the amount of debt those bills are helping to pay.

"To be honest with you, the high rates that you pay are not so directly related to the cost of cleaning and treating the water; it's very simple to pay debt," Currin said. "We are in debt about $52 million. That does nothing to improve our water treatment plant, nothing to improve our quality. That is just the cost that it is for us to be able to play ball here. We hate that, we fought that, we were very much against that, but you either do it or you shut down."

Currin says they have a lot of debt to repay because of the Falls Lake Watershed rules and what they had to do to treat waste treatment going into the lake.

RELATED: Granville County explains its role in the watershed

Currin also said the acquisition of Creedmoor into SGWASA was also costly.

Solving that issue is a matter for a higher authority than the board. State Sen. Floyd McKissick, who represents Granville County, was also at Tuesday night's meeting.

"All these upstream communities that bear the cost for the water quality in places like the city of Raleigh, they need to be made at least partially whole for some of that expense," said Sen. McKissick, who says he's been advocating for that very solution.

"What we really need to do is reapportion the debt that are bourn by communities like Butner, Ceedmoor, Stem. They are small tax bases, they have a small number of water users, it's impacting water quality," McKissick said.

As far as the cancer concerns brought up by the ABC11 I-Team, that's something Sen. McKissick plans to meet with the department of public health and those in water quality in about three weeks.

Currin says the board plans to start looking into water issues. He's promising a transparent process and an update at their next meeting on April 12.

"I did not hear anything tonight that we cannot address," Currin said.

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