On Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, Carolina Water Service of North Carolina (CWSNC) and Carteret County closed on CWSNC’s acquisition of the Carteret County water system. CWSNC began its partnership with Carteret County in 2020 when CWSNC was the successful bidder for the Carteret County water system. In January 2022, CWSNC became the contract operator for the water system. With this purchase, CWSNC adds approximately 1,200 water service customers in the North River/Mill Creek and Merrimon areas of Carteret County.
"We have a strong track record in North Carolina and Carteret County. Our team’s level of customer service and commitment to the community has enabled County leadership to entrust us with providing critical service for public health, safety and economic development.” said Don Denton, President of CWSNC. “We take this responsibility seriously and look forward to continuing to serve Carteret County.”
The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the transaction under a law enacted in 2018 which allows municipalities in North Carolina to sell water and wastewater systems for a price based on fair market value. The Carteret County water system purchase by CWSNC is the first to be completed in North Carolina utilizing the fair market value law. Prior to enactment of this law, it was difficult for a municipality to determine the fair value of a water or wastewater system that it was interested in selling to a regulated utility. The law makes it possible for local governments to assess the value and benefits of selling their systems to regulated investor-owned utilities.
Tommy Burns, Carteret County Manager said the law, “gives communities an alternative to value their systems when considering being acquired by an investor-owned water utility.” He added, “Carteret County didn’t enter into the decision to sell the water system lightly. We conducted our due diligence and found we were unable to continue delivering quality service to the community without continued, significant rate impact. Carolina Water is the local expert and will be able to support upgrades for quality service. State legislation allowed our community to receive a fair price, funds which will be used to enhance the lives of our residents.”
Denton added, “The Fair Market Value law doesn’t require municipalities to sell. It simply supports those which need to or want to do so for a number of different reasons like investment needs, water supply concerns or other priorities. Water and wastewater services are our core focus at Carolina Water Service. We are excited to continue sharing our expertise in Carteret County.”
In 2017, the North Carolina’s State Water Infrastructure Authority estimated the state was facing up to $26 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure needs over 20 years. North Carolina is not alone as the nation’s water and wastewater systems are reaching the end of their lifespan and facing a need for critical investment.
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