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Pasco County customers complain of undrinkable water from Orange Land Utilities

PASCO — State regulators on Tuesday approved a 22 percent rate increase for a small water utility in Pasco County. But more than half a dozen customer complaints filed with the Office of Public Counsel about the utility dominated the discussion.

Customers of Orange Land Utilities, a small water utility in Pasco County, contacted state officials to report concerns about the quality of water over the past few months.

Orange Land serves about 74 residential customers and two commercial customers. According to eight complaints filed with the Office of Public Counsel, as well as two filed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, several of its customers say the water is off-color, has made pets sick and requires filtration to drink.

In one complaint, New Port Richey resident Larry Hampton said the water made his dog vomit every time she drank from the faucet.

"I placed a Brita water filter on the kitchen faucet and that resolved the issue," he wrote in his July complaint. "The water is disgusting."

In another, Phillip Aleci, also a New Port Richey resident, said inconveniences such as an extended "boil water" notice because of a broken pipe were frequent and cumbersome.

New Port Richey's Rodney and Angeline Berkey said discolored, undrinkable water was their primary issue.

"Our water is not drinkable," they wrote. "We have purchased drinking water for the past five years."

Despite these concerns, a PSC determined that the overall quality of service provided by Orange Land was satisfactory.

"The water issues do not appear to be systemic considering the number of complaints that were received," the analysis said. "The majority of complaints appear to be related to the aesthetics of the water."

According to the analysis, the water was tested by the Department of Environmental Protection and passed inspection in 2015. Results of another test by the department for 2018 are pending.

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Contact this reporter at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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