BEAUFORT — A grassroots group has formed to oppose the sale of Carteret County’s water system, with a contingent of residents planning to attend Monday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting to speak against the sale.
The county board meets at 6 p.m. Monday in the commissioners’ boardroom of the administration complex in Beaufort at 302 Court House Square.
The community group, calling itself Carteret County for Public Water, or CC4PW, organized quickly since news broke about the board’s decision last month to sell the county-owned and maintained system to the privately owned company Aqua N.C. for $7 million. The county has since received an upset bid of $7.5 million, and the bidding window remains open until Wednesday.
Carteret County’s water system serves approximately 1,200 customers, mostly in areas along Highway 101 outside of Beaufort.
Monica Hunter and Patrick Kelly helped co-found CC4PW and have been spearheading efforts to spread the word to affected residents and anyone else with an interest in the county water system. The group plans to pack Monday’s board of commissioners meeting with residents wearing blue to represent water, with many people planning to share their thoughts during public comment.
Ms. Hunter said she and others oppose the sale for numerous reasons, but she feels the board’s decision was especially egregious because the public was not informed in advance or given the opportunity to comment.
“It seemed like (commissioners) didn’t really make an informed choice, and there was no question about what’s going to happen to the public in the long term, the users who are actually saddled right now with this system,” she said. “…We’re not against a private company, we’re just against our commissioners selling it without anyone knowing.”
Ms. Hunter, who lives in Beaufort and wouldn’t be directly affected by the water sale, said she’s also worried a private company would raise rates and not be managed as well as the county-owned system. Mr. Kelly agreed, saying he feels water should remain a public commodity, rather than privatized.
“The only other option to me would be a co-op, such as western Carteret water is set up as a nonprofit co-op,” he said, referring to Western Carteret Water Corp., which serves residents of Bogue, Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, Peletier and unincorporated areas of western Carteret County. “It’s not looking out for its shareholders, it’s not looking out for its CEO, so it still has the users in mind as who they’re actually supporting.”
The group has a website, cc4pw.org, as well as a Facebook page, Carteret County for Public Water, where residents can access resources and additional information gathered by Mr. Kelly and Ms. Hunter. The group has also placed road signs and passed out flyers to help spread the word about the water sale, and it encourages residents to contact commissioners and other county officials with their concerns.
For those who cannot attend in person, the board meeting Monday will be broadcast live on the county’s website, carteretcountync.gov, and Facebook page, Carteret County Government.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.