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 [email protected] (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. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity


    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.
  2. Advocates for charter, public schools argue their cases at education forum


    TAMPA — Advocates of charter schools argued for diversity in education while supporters of traditional public schools charged that state funding is stacked against them during a forum Friday titled, Choices in Education.

    Schools such as Winthrop Charter School deserve greater public support, their operators say, because they offer a choice in education that is popular among parents. Public school advocates say charter and voucher schools represent a double standard in accountability and enrollment. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  3. Editorial: UF shows how to preserve free speech


    The University of Florida was forced to navigate a treacherous terrain of constitutional concerns and public safety this week, all in a glaring public spotlight. In the end, Thursday's appearance by Richard Spencer was a success — as much as an unwelcome visit from a notorious white nationalist can be. The …

  4. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  5. Editorial: When protest leads to understanding


    The protests against racial injustice by professional athletes across the country include examples of communities where it has not been handled well. And then there is the example set in Tampa Bay.