Disinfectant wet wipes, paper towels and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. These products help keep us clean and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But when we remember that products like baby wipes and wet wipes are not as “flushable” as typically advertised, it’s no surprise that we’re now at a greater risk for sewer blockages in our communities.
If TP isn’t available, it’s easy to reach for an alternative – but keep in mind these wipes need to stay out of our pipes, period. Keep a bin next to the toilet for disposal! Do with wet wipes what you’d do with a baby’s diaper or other hygiene products.
When “flushable” wipes enter your plumbing system, they don’t disintegrate like regular ol’ toilet paper. They often hold together better than a paper towel and they require more water to travel the distance from inside your house to the buried sewer lines outside. At some point in this journey, you’re going to get a clog! If wipes survive the trip to the water treatment plant, they just clog up the giant pumps there, creating even bigger problems.
So now that we’re never flushing our wet wipes again, are you wondering what else doesn’t belong down the drain? Read this quick list of items we’re all guilty of tossing… Now here’s to helping our pipes stay clog-free.
- Q-Tips and cotton balls – They will never disintegrate like TP, so don’t flush ‘em.
- Feminine hygiene products – Pads and tampons are meant to absorb liquids, not break down in them. They are never safe to flush.
- Dental floss – Floss might look harmless, but this stuff is tough. It can create a net when it’s swishing around in your pipes and wrap around parts of your septic system, even burning out the motor.
- Diapers – No no no no no! Diaper pails exist for a reason.
- Condoms – They’re designed to never break down in water. Put it in the trash.
- Medication – Toilet water doesn’t break down the prescription drugs you flush, meaning that whatever you’re taking will end up in the environment. Throw into the trash or return it to a pharmacy.
- Kitty Litter – Some cat litter brands advertise as being flushable, but don’t believe the hype. All it does is make water more difficult to purify on the other end.
- Cigarettes – Ciggie butts are full of chemicals! Don’t smoke them and don’t flush them.
- Hair – When flushed, hair acts like dental floss and creates a net that gets caught on everything. Plus, it never dissolves in water, no matter how long its there.
- Bleach – It’s too harsh of a chemical to use as a part of your routine cleaning, try getting toilet stains out with vinegar instead.
Bacon! Sizzling in the frying pan, browning to perfection, ready to be applied to that lettuce, bacon and tomato sandwich – YUM!
But what should you do with the remaining grease? Pour it down the sink!?!?
Simple! Follow our guidelines for how to properly dispose of fats, oils, and grease or FOG!
First, NEVER pour fats, oils or grease down the sink! This could result in a Sanitary Sewer Overflow.
Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) occur when untreated wastewater flows from the collection system and into the environment due to abnormal causes.
A wide variety of factors can cause an SSO but the leading cause for decades has been Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG). These substances, when poured down the drain, solidify in the sewer pipes and cause blockages that do not allow normal wastewater to flow.
If the blockage becomes large enough, normal wastewater flow will begin to back up and release elsewhere, such as a manhole or cleanout. The untreated wastewater then flows freely into storm drains, creeks and lakes that can have a severe impact. YUCK!
Here are some examples of FOG that you should never put down the drain.
· Ice Cream
· Meat Trimmings
· Salad Dressings
· Cooking Oil
· Vegetable Oil
· Canola Oil
· Olive Oil
· Corn Oil
So, how do you properly dispose of fog? Easy! Scrape all pans into garbage. Then Dry Wipe pan with paper towel and dispose of in garbage. Pour liquid oil or grease into solid container (ex: glass jar, metal coffee can etc.) and allow to cool and solidify. Then toss in garbage. Contact your local government to see if they have a cooking oil recycling program.
A new major factor that has been contributing to SSOs has been Flushable wipes. Although these wipes are flushable, they do not break down like normal tissue paper does. As a result, these wipes get stuck in the sewer pipes and the pumps that move the wastewater. If you use these wipes, please dispose of them in the garbage not the toilet.
Enjoy your bacon but be responsible and properly dispose of that grease!
Be Aware of Scams and Avoid Imposters - Tips to Help You be Safe!
Never provide or confirm personal information (Social Security number, date of birth) or financial information (banking account information, debit, or credit card information) to anyone initiating contact with you, whether by phone, in-person, or email, claiming to be a utility company representative.
If your utility leaves you a message or contacts you by phone, it will typically ask to speak to the person whose name is listed on the account, and if you call your utility, it may ask for some personal information to confirm your identity for your protection.
Never give out information or provide any payment type to any callers or unexpected individual(s) appearing at your home or business claiming to represent your utility. Your utility will have your relevant personal and account information.
Do not be rushed. If someone calls, appears, or emails saying you have to pay your bill immediately to avoid disconnection, tell them you would like to verify that they are a legitimate utility company representative by calling a verified number for the utility company.
Beware if a caller or in-person representative exhibits impatience, annoyance, or anger when you question their authority. Notice if their emotion intensifies when you ask to speak with their manager, request their phone number, or offer to call back later.
While a scammer will discourage you from hanging up and calling the number on your utility bill, a real utility representative will encourage you to do so for your own peace of mind.
Know that your questions may scare the scammer off. If not, document what the scammer told you, including the name they provided you, the date and time you spoke with them, their caller ID number, their employee identification number, the method, and amount of payment they requested, any phone number they requested you call to pay your bill, and any other details that might aid in a possible criminal investigation.
If you purchased a prepaid card and provided the card’s number to the scammer for payment, record the prepaid card number as well.
Call your utility immediately to inform them of the scam and give this information to your utility when you call. If you want to check on your account, call your utility’s phone number provided on your monthly bill, or on their website, or log into your account on the website.
‘Never make a utility bill payment to anyone calling you on the phone, coming to your door (unless
that is a verified bill payment method used by your utility company), texting you, or emailing you.
Always call your utility company, at the number provided on your bill or on the utility’s website, if you have a question about payment or billing information.
Know your utility bill payment options—online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.
Never wire money or give the number from a prepaid card to someone you do not know.
Once you do, you cannot get your money back. Be suspicious if the caller is requiring the use of a specific payment option, like a prepaid card, as utilities never ask or require a customer to purchase a prepaid card to avoid disconnection.
Review guides like this, local news reports and websites, utility and trade association websites (including www.UtilitiesUnited.org), local law enforcement websites, state attorneys general websites, federal government websites, consumer information websites, and research incoming phone numbers you do not recognize.
Scammers are constantly updating their tactics, and you will need to stay educated on new types of scams and tips to avoid them.
Pass on information about impostor electric, water, and natural gas scams to people you know.
N.C. HOPE Program Application Period Opened June 2, 2021
Offering Rent and Utility Assistance for North Carolinians Struggling to Recover from Pandemic
Governor Roy Cooper and Chief Operating Officer of the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) Laura Hogshead shared an update on the application process for the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program.
The program is open for a second application period to assist very low-income renters that are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The HOPE Program provides rent and utility bill assistance to prevent evictions and utility disconnections.
“I strongly encourage landlords and utilities across our state to lend a hand to their communities and to participate in these programs so that we can keep people in their homes with their lights on,” said Governor Cooper. “I am proud that North Carolina is taking steps to support families who need it as we emerge from this pandemic.”
The current HOPE Program is serving very low-income renters in 88 North Carolina counties. Very low-income is defined as earning less than or equal to 50 percent of the area median income for the county where the renter lives. Twelve additional counties and five tribal governments received money directly from the federal government to operate their own programs.
North Carolina initially launched the HOPE Program last fall, using flexible federal CARES Act funds to keep low-income people struggling during the pandemic in their homes and their utilities turned on. In total, the program awarded $133 million to more than 36,000 applicants.
Congress subsequently recognized the outstanding need for rent and utility assistance and passed additional funds in the two stimulus bills, including the American Rescue Plan.
“In advance of this second application period, HOPE Program processes have been streamlined to ensure people get help as quickly as possible,” said NCORR Chief Operating Officer Laura Hogshead. “Our goal is to continue to provide housing stability while our state recovers from impacts of the pandemic.”
Complete details about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, are available at www.hope.nc.gov.
Applicants who cannot access the website may also call (888) 9ASK-HOPE or (888) 927-5467.
Johnston County Public Utilities Water Conservation - June 1, 2021
Johnston County has lifted the water shortage advisory. However, we would like to remind all customers of the County’s mandatory year-round conservation policy.
The policy allows for alternate day irrigation for irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers based on the customer’s address.
Odd number street addresses are allowed to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while even number street addresses are allowed to water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
No irrigation is allowed on Mondays.
Pool filling days should correspond with allowed irrigation days.
Please visit our website at www.jcutil.com for the full policy and water conservation suggestions.
We sincerely appreciate your cooperation. Please contact Johnston County Public Utilities at 919-989-5075 with any questions.
Helpful Tips for our Customers
While we've suspended disconnections to help those who are facing financial hardships, we encourage you to continue to pay your bill as you normally would, if able.
This will help you avoid a larger balance later.
If you have any difficulty with paying your bill, please contact our Customer Service Department at (800) 525-7990 to discuss payment plans or payment arrangements.
Governor Roy Cooper's Order Suspending Disconnections and Providing for Extended Special Repayment Plans for Certain Vulnerable Residential Customers and Requiring Door Hanger Notices.
That, effective immediately, for bills rendered through March 31, 2021, DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall cease residential customer disconnections due to nonpayment of utility bills, except where disconnection is necessary as a matter of safety or where requested by the customer, where the residential customer can establish that the customer is unable to pay for such service in full and that the customer’s household is eligible to receive assistance (whether funds are then available or not) from LIEAP, CIP, or the North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (NC HOPE) Program;
2. That, notwithstanding the waiver granted to DEC and DEP in Docket Nos.E-2, Sub 1214 and E-7, Sub 1210, effective immediately through March 31, 2021, DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall place a service disconnect door-hanger at all residences within 24 to 36 hours prior to disconnection, advising residential customers of their options to avoid disconnection;
3. That no provision in this Order shall be construed as relieving a customer of the obligation to pay bills for receipt of any utility service covered by this Order, and DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall advise residential customers of this obligation when setting forth their options prior to disconnection;
4. That DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall offer residential customers meeting the criteria set forth in Ordering Paragraph No. 1, above, an extended repayment plan, based on equal, fixed monthly installments or pre-agreed fixed percentage of each monthly bill added to current charges, payable over no fewer than 18 months, unless the customer consents to a shorter repayment period, to repay the arrearages accrued during the COVID-19 State of Emergency (Extended Special
Repayment Plan). Customers in compliance with an established Extended Special Repayment Plan shall be allowed to transfer his/her/their account, including the established Extended Special Repayment Plan terms, to a new service location. DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall not use disconnections or any legal process to collect arrearages from a customer who is in compliance with an established Extended Special Repayment Plan. DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua
shall not report a customer to any credit reporting agency if and for as long as that customer is in compliance with an established Extended Special Repayment Plan. Finally, DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall not directly or indirectly encourage or solicit a customer to use a credit card or other form of third-party financing or third-party extension of credit other than an Extended Special Repayment Plan as specified herein, as a means of paying arrearages; provided, however, that they may accept from a customer such alternative means of repayment initiated at the customer’s option and
according to the utility’s existing policies with respect to the acceptance of such alternative
means of payment;
5. That nothing herein shall be construed to impact the Late Fee Moratorium currently in effect as to all jurisdictional electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater public utilities, including resellers, through the end of the State of Emergency or until further order of the Commission;
6. That all jurisdictional electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater public utilities are hereby directed to make every possible effort to accept and enable customer use of all federal and North Carolina assistance programs, including the NC HOPE program, that have been established for distributing funds for utility assistance from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 27, 2020; the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021; and the anticipated relief package proposed by
the Biden administration. Nothing herein should be construed to discourage all jurisdictional electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater public utilities from continuing to encourage eligible customers to access other sources of aid not expressly named herein, including but not limited to utility-sponsored and nonprofit programs;
7. That the Public Staff is hereby granted leave to file additional comments, as requested in its January 7, 2021 Initial Comments;
8. That DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua shall provide notice of this Order’s content on their websites, shall further provide notice of this Order’s content by posting physically where the company does business with its customers, and shall ensure that their employees are trained to advise customers of their options consistent with the terms of this Order; and
9. That this Order is effective on the date issued, and the Chief Clerk shall
serve this Order by electronic mail on DEC, DEP, DENC, PNG, PSNC, CWS, and Aqua.
Belvedere Plantation - Facts about Rates and Billing
The current rate for water and wastewater is the same for all customers within the Belvedere community. Every community in Belvedere pays the same amount for water and wastewater including the base rate and the per-gallon charge.
Shown below are the base rates for water and wastewater as well as the per-gallon charges within the current tariff that is approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) and a comparison with the current Pender County Water rates.
Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) cannot change the rates approved by the NCUC without going through a thorough review by the NCUC. When a base rate case is filed, rates are only approved after public hearings, where customers are able to testify about the rates and their service. During these cases, multiple public hearings are held throughout the state. Customers may also submit written comments to the Commission for consideration as well.
An analysis of the costs for CWSNC, per our current tariff rates, vs. Pender County Water is set forth below and compares the costs associated with water. Note that the associated costs are comparable in that the CWSNC and Pender County base rate and per gallon charge vary by only a couple of dollars.
CWSNC base rate and per gallon charge for water
Usage Rate per 1,000 gallons
Pender County base rate and per gallon charge for water
Usage Rate per 1,000 gallons
Since Pender County does not offer wastewater service in this area, only the CWSNC base rate and per gallon charge for wastewater* is included below:
Do I pay more than anyone else in the Belvedere Community?
No, everyone pays the same rate and base charge regardless of the community or neighborhood in Belvedere.
In 2017, there was discussion of a water filter for the community to address hardness. What happened to the proposed water filtration system?
Hardness, as an attribute of drinking water, is not regulated. However, in 2019, Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) presented the Belvedere Homeowners Association an option to install a water softener/filtration system to address the secondary water quality issues directly related to hardness. CWSNC compiled three competitive bids for a water softening system. The bids received in 2019 for the potential, central water softener/filtration system ranged from $1.5 million to $1.8 million.
Because of the significant cost involved in pursuing this secondary water quality treatment solution, CWSNC presented the project to the Public Staff of the NCUC to review. The Public Staff informed CWSNC in 2019, that the Public Staff did not believe the project was prudent and suggested that individual home softening systems would be more cost-effective.
The Public Staff did offer an alternative approach that would enable CWSNC to proceed with installing a system-level solution. Under this approach, CWSNC would install the system-level water softening solution and the costs associated with the installation would be recovered by the Company through a rate surcharge applied solely to the Belvedere community (as opposed to being spread across all of CWSNC’s customers).
In order to proceed with this alternative approach, each homeowner in the Belvedere community would need to provide written consent to the surcharge, prior to a request to the NCUC to adopt a tariff that so required. The estimated surcharge at the time for each customer would have been approximately $18.00/month for 7 years, then reduced to approximately $5.00/month for the next 26 years.
The Belvedere Homeowners Association Board declined the option, stating that most homeowners have water softeners and filtration systems and would be opposed to the additional costs that would be directly billed to the Belvedere Plantation community.
Currently, CWSNC Regional Director, Dana Hill, is seeking new bids for the same water softening system to present to the community as an option for addressing water hardness. The surcharge will be estimated for 2021, and the timeframe for the asset depreciation would be similar to the above information. Once all bids are received, the community’s HOA Board will be contacted to see if there is any desire for the installation of the water softener system under these terms.
What projects have occurred in the last several years in the Belvedere Community? The completed projects are listed below with the estimated costs:
- Wells Number 1 (completed Summer 2019) and Number 2 (completed Fall 2018) had screen replacements and new gravel pack added to reduce sand/sediment being drawn into the system- $75,000 each
- Two auto-flushers were installed in (Summer 2018) at $4,500 each
- Replaced ground storage tank due to rust issues (May 2020)- $110,000
- Several upgrades to SCADA (started in 2017 and completed in late 2020) that exceed $50,000
Why does my neighbor have a lower bill than mine?
Varying water and sewer use will impact what customer’s pay. In addition, several people in Belvedere have a septic system that was grandfathered into the system due to being in existence at the time of the takeover of the entire community by CWSNC. They do not pay the wastewater base rate or per-gallon usage charge. Customers that have both water and wastewater services pay a per-usage/gallon rate.
Is it possible for me to switch over to a septic system from the wastewater system?
No, this is not possible due to the arrangements and contracts that preceded the original agreements for CWSNC to assume possession of the system.
Where does my water originate?
“When a water-bearing rock readily transmits water to wells and springs, it is called an aquifer. Wells can be drilled into the aquifers and water can be pumped out. Precipitation eventually adds water (recharge) into the porous rock of the aquifer. The rate of recharge is not the same for all aquifers, though, and that must be considered when pumping water from a well.”
Your well water comes from a local aquifer and is treated by CWSNC to state and federal requirements, to provide you safe, clean water.
What explains the red rings/stains that the residents say the water leaves on bathtubs and toilets?
Per the American Water Works Association, Serratia Marcescens is a pink residue that appears on bathroom fixtures in the shower, sink, and along the water line in the toilet bowl. It is a naturally occurring airborne bacteria that produces a pinkish film on surfaces that are regularly moist, including toilet bowls, showerheads, sink drains, and tiles.The bacteria survive there because the water sits for a period of time, with the chlorine dissipating as it stands. If you have an activated carbon filter on your water line, you are removing the chlorine and may be supporting the growth of the bacteria.
Why is my water brown or yellow? What is being done to correct the water coloration?
Typically, this is caused by sediment that is in the pipes to your community. As the water system is used, the sediment is disturbed and passes along the system into your home. An auto-flushing hydrant has been purchased for the cul-de-sac as well as increased scheduled line flushing to help address some of the sediment issues.
What may cause issues inside my home if the water at my outside spigot is clear?
If you have an in-home filtration system of water softener, the filters or other medium, such as salt for certain water softeners, must be changed per the recommended manufactures schedule. An old filter may produce a yellow or brown color inside the home.
Why does the water smell so strongly of chlorine?
Chlorine is used as a disinfectant for the water to ensure it is safe to use and drink. Our operations staff is required to monitor the amount of chlorine to ensure that the appropriate amount is being used in the system. Several factors can cause the chlorine smell to seem more noticeable such as which well is currently operating, weather (chlorine dissipates more quickly in warmer temperature), and usage.
What can I do to make my voice heard in the future for any rate cases?
All customers are encouraged to contact the North Carolina Utilities Commission public staff to voice their concerns or make statements regarding their service.
How can I keep up with my usage and bills?
CWSNC offers the My Utility Connect application online and through Apple and Google applications. To sign up for this service, which includes email, text, and phone notifications, sign up at this link. https://connect.myutility.us/connect/.
How will I know if any rate changes occur?
CWSNC will send a letter to each customer as a bill insert if there is a change in the rate. Notification is required by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Where can I find more information about CWSNC?
Information, including the current NCUC approved tariff and water quality reports may be found on our website at https://www.myutility.us/CarolinaWaterServiceNC
On our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaWaterNC
On the Belvedere Community WordPress page designed just for the community by CWSNC to keep you updated at https://carolinawaterservnc.wordpress.com/.
If at any time, a customer has a question concerning the current rates, their bill, or their service, they are encouraged to reach out to our Customer Experience team at the following:
Phone: (800) 525-7990
Fax: (866) 842-8348
Our staff maintains a Facebook page and monitors the inbox in the event you want to ask questions via this method.
*Customers with a grandfathered septic system do not pay a wastewater base rate or per gallon charge. This accounts for why some individuals in the community pay lower bills
Protect your pipes! When in doubt, throw it out!
Oils and grease are wastes that our sewer system cannot handle and should not be discarded down the drain. Grease, fats, and oils will clog sewer lines (the same way bad cholesterol can clog heart arteries), causing sewage back-ups and flooding. Sewage back-ups can damage personal and our wastewater treatment system.
Carolina Water Service Inc., or North Carolina inspects and clears sewer pipes to prevent spills but we can't do this without your help. Drain excess grease or cooking oil into a can, cool and toss. Wipe any leftover grease from the pan with a paper towel and throw the paper towel away.
The same goes for our toilets. If you flush items down the toilet that don't belong there, you are inviting clogs and overflows. Even products labeled as "flushable" do not decompose in the sewer system and can contribute to clogging. Don't flush paper towels, baby wipes, adult or baby diapers, hair, cotton swabs, feminine products or dental floss. Only put toilet paper down the toilet.