Frequently Asked Questions
 
Q: ARE WATER LINES AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2?

A: No.  Engineering studies were completed prior to the planning and installation of water lines.  Several factors were considered in the placement of water lines, including density of residential development, cost factors, public health and safety needs and other factors.  
 
 
Q: HOW MANY CUSTOMERS ARE IN WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2?
 
A: There are about 1,000 customers in Water District #1 and another 1,000 customers in Water District #2. 
 
 
Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A WATER DISTRICT #1 OR #2 CUSTOMER, AS OPPOSED TO HAVING MY OWN WELL?
 
A: -     Water quality, health and potability,
- Reliability of service, 
- Less investment costs (no well required), 
- Less electricity costs (no pump required),
- No treatment costs,
- Service does not generally go out when power fails, like it would if you have a well but no back-up generator, and
- No repair and maintenance concerns or costs.
 
 
Q: WHAT DO I NEED TO ESTABLISH A NEW SERVICE? 
 
A: A completed 'User Agreement' with the following information:
 
- Driver's License (or other identification) 
- Social Security number 
- Physical Address of the home or business
- Billing address of the home or business (if different from physical address) 
- Telephone number for the home or business
 
 
Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ESTABLISH SERVICE?
 
A: For a property that already has a tap, there is a $50 Change of Occupancy fee for property owners to establish a new account.  Renters must pay the $50 Change of Occupancy fee + a $75 deposit (total of $125) to establish a new account.
 
 
Q: WHAT IS THE TAP FEE FOR A NEW TAP?
 
A: For a property that has access to a water line but which does not have a tap, the cost of a new ¾-inch service tap is $550, and the cost of a new 1-inch service tap is $1,000.  All other tap sizes over 1-inch are generally installed on behalf of the County by a private contractor and provided to the customer at the County’s cost.
 
 
Q: WHAT ARE THE RATES FOR MARTIN COUNTY WATER DISTRICT #1 AND #2?
 
A: Effective the next billing cycle in September 2015, the rates for Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 will decrease from the rates established effective July 1, 2015, as aproved by a majority of the Martin County Board of Commissioners.
 
The base water rate (which included 1,000 gallons) for Water and Sewer District 1 and 2 will decrease from $53 per month to $40 per month, and the usage fee for water usage over 1,000 gallons will remain $8.50 per 1,000 gallons.  
 
 
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE A WATER LEAK?
 
A: Upon request and approval of the District, a User’s bill may be adjusted due to a leak as follows: The average of the previous 12 months bills for that User will be used by the District as the basis for determining the amount of credit to be given the User after the leak is repaired, but not more than one such adjusted bill or credit shall be given for any one meter during any twelve months period of time. A copy of the repair bill or a receipt for parts must be supplied to the District prior to any adjustment. For services installed less than 12 months, the bill is adjusted to the average of those months of consumption. If no previous record of consumption, the User will be billed for the meter reading cycle minimum.
 
 
Q: WHY WERE THE WATER DISTRICT #1 AND #2 WATER RATES INCREASED IN 2015-16?

A: The rate increase was needed to help pay for the operating costs and debt service for the new Martin County Regional Water and Sewer Authority (MCRWASA) water treatment plant.
 
Additionally, fewer customers in Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 chose to hook-up for service than were anticipated prior to construction.  Additional customers would help spread-out the operating expenses and lower the unit cost of operation.  Martin County has subsidized the water districts, but this practice is not advisable or sustainable.  As enterprise funds, the water districts should be self-supporting.  The fees collected should cover the full costs of the services, but this has not happened historically.  The Martin County general fund (which is funded by the property and sales taxes) have been covering some of the costs of Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2.  The water rates in Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 have increased incrementally in recent years in order for the water districts to be more self-supporting, and part of the 2015-16 rate increase was needed to help make Water Districts #1 and #2 more financially self-supporting.
 
 
Q: WHAT DOES “ENTERPRISE FUND” MEAN?
 
A: An enterprise fund establishes a separate accounting and financial reporting mechanism for certain services.  A fee is charged in exchange for goods or services. 
 
 
Q: WHY CAN’T THE COUNTY CONTINUE TO SUBSIDIZE THE WATER DISTRICTS?
 
A: Sustaining the water districts’ budget with regular general fund revenues on a long-term basis (1) is not sustainable, (2) is not recommended by the State’s Local Government Commission, and (3) could have consequences for the County and its citizens.
 
The NC Local Government Commission is an office within the NC Treasurer's Office.  The LGC reviews our audits and has oversight over local government finances.  The agency often has to approve loans and other such matters for local governments.  
 
The NC Local Government Commission (LGC) position is that, “Governing bodies must strive to make and keep water and sewer systems self-sustaining.”  From an LGC letter, “This means that the utility customers should not subsidize general government operations and property taxpayers should not subsidize utility services.”  Going against LGC recommendations can have very real consequences.  NC General Statute § 159-181 empowers the Local Government Commission to take over a water utility for a variety of reasons, including when “the unit or public authority experienced a net loss of revenue from operations in the enterprise system.”
 
 
Q:  WHO ESTABLISHES THE WHOLESALE WATER RATE FOR THE MARTIN COUNTY REGIONAL WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY (MCRWASA)?
 
A: The MCRWASA Board of Directors establishes the wholesale water rate for MCRWASA.  The MCRWASA Board of Directors is made-up of 2 members and 1 alternate that are appointed by the Town of Williamston and 2 members and 1 alternate appointed by Martin County.
 
 
Q:  WHO ESTABLISHES THE WATER RATES FOR MARTIN COUNTY WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2?
 
A: The water rates for Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 are established by the Martin County Board of Commissioners.
 
 
Q:  DOES MARTIN COUNTY ESTABLISH THE WATER RATES FOR THE TOWN OF WILLIAMSTON?
 
A: No, the Town of Williamston water rates are established by the Williamston Town Board of Commissioners.
 
 
Q: WHY ARE THE WATER RATES FOR WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2 DIFFERENT THAN THE TOWN OF WILLIAMSTON RATES?

A: MCRWASA charges both the Town of Williamston and Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 the same bulk water rate - $4.95 per 1,000 gallons.  The retail water rates for Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 are different from the retail water rates for the Town of Williamston.  The County Water Districts have different operating expenses than the Town of Williamston.  A big part of that involves debt.  Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 are young utilities that still have the debt remaining from their original construction.
 
 
Q: IS IT MANDATORY TO BE CONNECTED AS A CUSTOMER IN WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2 IF A PROPERTY HAS ACCESS TO WATER LINES?
 
A: Under current Martin County policy, it is not mandatory for a property owner with access to Water District #1 and #2 water lines to be hooked-up as a customer of Water District #1 or #2.
 
 
Q: WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF TOO MANY CUSTOMERS OPT-OUT OF SERVICE FROM WATER DISTRICT #1 AND #2 AND GO BACK TO WELLS?
 
A: Through inter-local agreements, the Town of Williamston and Martin County have agreed to purchase 100% of their average daily demand of water from MCRWASA.  This arrangement was necessary to pay for the debt service and operating expenses of the water treatment plant.
 
If too many customers leave the County water system, the County may need to consider other revenue options to generate enough revenue to pay its bills.  Two options include:  (1) requiring mandatory hook-up, or (2) instituting a property tax on the entire water districts.
 
 
Q: MARTIN COUNTY WATER DISTRICTS #1 AND #2 HAVE WELLS.  WILL THESE WELLS BE USED / MAINTAINED?
 
A: The Town of Williamston and Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2 wells will be maintained as a supplemental and back-up water supply.
 
 
Q:  WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MARTIN COUNTY REGIONAL WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY (MCRWASA) BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND THE MARTIN COUNTY WATER DISTRICTS ADVISORY BOARD?
 
A: The Martin County Regional Water and Sewer Authority (MCRWASA) Board of Directors is the governing body for MCRWASA.  The MCRWASA Board of Directors is made-up of 2 members and 1 alternate who are appointed by the Town of Williamston Board of Commissioners and 2 members and 1 alternate appointed by Martin County Board of Commissioners.  The MCRWASA Board of Directors conducts business on behalf of MCRWASA.  It adopts the budget and policies for MCRWASA.
 
The Martin County Water Districts Advisory Board acts in an advisory capacity.  Board members are appointed by the Martin County Board Commissioners.  The Martin County Water Districts Advisory Board advises the Martin County Board of Commissioners and County staff about water rates, policies and service needs of Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2.  The Martin County Board of Commissioners conducts business on behalf of Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2.  The Martin County Board of Commissioners adopts the budget and policies for Martin County Water Districts #1 and #2.
 
For more information on the need for the MCRWASA water treatment plant, the project cost, the project funding, salt water intrusion (which is one of the issues the water treatment plant addresses), and the recent water rates increases, please review the following PowerPoint slides from a meeting held on September 1, 2015
 
 
For more information about the need for the Martin County Regional Water and Sewer Authority (MCRWASA) water treatment plant, visit http://mcrwasa.org/history.aspx and http://mcrwasa.org/FAQs.aspx.