Summertree residents continue battle over high water rates

They want county to take over private provider
Posted at 6:28 PM, Jan 10, 2017

"I really don't believe Utilities Inc," said one Summertree resident.

"Utilities Inc. of Florida appears only to be interested in profit," said another.

Hundreds of Summertree residents on Tuesday confronted the company they say has ripped them off for decades while at the same time providing substandard drinking water.




"I couldn't even use the water to cook, I couldn't give it to my dogs, I wouldn't give it to my dogs cause I wouldn't even drink it," said one resident at the podium.

Residents of the west Pasco neighborhood, located on the south side of State Road 52, have complained for years about the yellow-colored water coming from their taps, while being charged the highest rates in Pasco County.

Summertree has since rid themselves of the companies wells and are now connected to county water. The switch significantly improved the water quality but they say Utilities Inc. continues to charge higher rates than other communities that receive county water.

"If we lived next door in colony lakes, our water and sewer together would be about $40," said resident Ann Marie Ryan.

Instead residents say the company is charging them more than double. Now what residents call another hit, Utilities Inc. is proposing to consolidate its rates for all of its customers statewide to about $71 for water and sewer to pay for infrastructure improvements.

"They've got a plan to spend $150 million on these systems across the state where as Summertree won't receive hardly any of that money," said Flip Mellinger with Pasco County Utilities.

Residents worry the consolidated rate will only continue to send their water rates higher and higher.

They now hope the company will sell the rights to the system to the county. However negotiations on a price for those rights have hit a snag.

The county has offered $3.6 million to Utilities Inc. who countered with an offer to sell for $6 million. A price county officials call outrageous.

"Pasco is willing to take over and handle it, why are they still even in the game," said one resident.