Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Summertree residents fight water, sewer rate increases, demand better quality

NEW PORT RICHEY — They lined up at the podium, each with a story about how their water smells like rotten eggs, leaves stains, tastes bitter or causes mineral buildup so bad they have to clean their shower heads weekly.

But what infuriated residents of the Summertree community most, they said, is that on top of the smells, yellowish color and bathtub stains, the utility that provides the water, Utilities Inc. of Florida, is seeking a 36-percent rate hike on water service and an 8.5-percent increase on sewer service.

About 130 residents showed up last week at a hearing before the state's Public Service Commission to argue, sometimes loudly, that Utilities Inc. should be required to improve the neighborhood's water quality without the rate increase.

The 1,200-home community on State Road 52 about two miles east of Little Road dates to the 1970s. Longtime residents said they enjoyed good water for years, but lately the quality has dropped off and now is so bad that many won't drink it, fearing urinary or kidney illnesses.

The company started to inject chemicals a couple years ago to improve overall safety. While residents applauded that effort, they said it doesn't go far enough to justify the rate hikes. Average water and sewer bills run from $80 to $85 a month, about double what many Pasco Utilities customers pay, residents said.

"They're asking a 36 percent increase. You should be angry. You should be telling them it's not fair," Ann Marie Ryan told PSC staff, sparking applause from the crowd.

The company filed for the increase on May 29 to cover increased operating costs and service improvements after 2011, including $2 million at a utility plant. In addition to Pasco, Utilities Inc. of Florida serves communities in Pinellas, Orange and Seminole counties. The PSC is expected to vote on the proposed increase Nov. 14.

Documents show the company serves two other Pasco neighborhoods, Buena Vista Manor and Oak Hill. It seemed, however, only Summertree residents attended last Wednesday's rate hearing.

Among them was Ron Scuderi, 75. He said he switches out the water filters and cleans the shower head weekly because of mineral buildup. Like other residents, he refuses to drink the water.

"I have to clean the water faucets and shower head with a toothpick," he said. "They should not be asking for this increase and giving us garbage."

Rich Shopes can be reached at (727) 869-6236.

Summertree residents fight water, sewer rate increases, demand better quality 08/12/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 1:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  2. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  4. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  5. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]