Water wars may one day come to North Carolina.
The cost of tap water may be rise significantly in this state as private water utilities aggressively snap up small water systems and are now eyeing acquisitions of larger municipal water services that have offered cheap water for decades.
Today, private water companies serve nearly 200,000 water and sewer customers in this state, causing rates to double and triple in recent years as the private companies buy up aging systems and make costly upgrades to pipes and treatment facilities.
The aggressive rate increases have led to a backlash in New York, Texas and other states, with charges of corporate greed and price gouging. Several states have launched investigations into the business practices of private water companies.
In a recent example, Aqua North Carolina last week won a rate increase in this state that will boost sales by 5.3 percent. The state's largest private water utility, with 88,000 customers, now charges over $100 a month for a typical water/sewer customer, more than twice as much as many municipal systems.
North Carolina offers fertile territory for further expansion through acquisitions, according to the current issue of UNC Chapel Hill's Water Resources Research Institute quarterly journal.