Summertree community in Pasco continues fight for clean, affordable water

By Leah Masuda, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 6:26 PM EST

For years residents of Summertree in New Port Richey say their water has been undrinkable. The community believes they've been getting ripped off by their water company.

  • New Port Richey neighborhood says their water isn't drinkable
  • Community has been struggling with utilities company since 2010
  • State gov. hosting series of meetings to resolve issue

The central Pasco County subdivision recently got some relief moving to county water, but residents say the battle is far from over.

The utility company is now asking for consolidated rates for all its customers.

“We started using bottled water for tea, the coffee, to give to the dogs, that's the only way you could survive with this water," said resident Lee Robida.

They've been fighting for clean water for a decade. Finally in December, something went their way.

“We made an interconnect with Pasco utilities on the 21 of December," said resident, Ann Marie Ryan. "We now capped our wells and have clean water."

That means the county supplies the water, but Utilities Inc. still owns and manages it.

“It seems to me like it's all about the money, and we're going to be the ones that end up paying it," said resident Christina Haugh.

At a meeting Tuesday,  Utilities Inc. asked the Public Service Commission to approve a consolidated rate of about $71 for water and sewer for its 60,000+ customers in the state. That will generate $7 million annually for ongoing projects.

“In the long run the cost of operating our water and waste water systems will be spread across a much larger customer base, will likely result in fewer rate increases and smaller rate increases in the future," said President of Utilities Inc. John Hoy.

Residents are skeptical though.

“Since 2010, Utilities Inc. has raised our rates 79.5 percent," said Ryan. "The county has raised rates over 11 years, 1 percent."

A series of hearings are scheduled around the state through February. Commissioners are expected to vote on the matter in June.