Johnsonville residents upset about spike in water bills

Johnsonville Water Concerns

JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. (WMBF) - Some people in Johnsonville are up in arms over the recent spike in water bills.

Dwayne Skinner, who’s the co-owner of WJ’s Hot Chicken and Fish on West Broadway Street, said their average water bill is around $75 to $80. Their most recent bill was $300.

Skinner said he’s not sure how they went from using 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water to more than 22,000 gallons when they’re only open four days out of the week.

They’ve had inspections done to see if there were any leaks, but none were found.

“It’s a family-owned business and that’s literally the reason why we’re there, but if you’re taking two to three hundred dollars from us, which may not seem like a lot for some, adding it into this budget we would close because the one thing we wouldn’t do is be treated unfairly,” Skinner said.

Several other residents said their water bills have recently doubled.

“My bill usually be like $50, $57 somewhere around that range. Last month it was $104,” Barbara Black said.

A few people said their bills only went up by $20.

Johnsonville City Administrator Jim Smith said the city applied flat rate sewer and water fees in July.

He admitted several people have gone to a city council meeting about their water bills. For some, they found leaks at the root of the problem.

"What people really have to understand is that a lot of the homes here are relatively old and there's a lot of issues that relate to plumbing over time," Smith said.

He said others didn’t realize how much water they used in previous months.

“People especially back in July and August filled up swimming pools so there’s a variety of things that could cause that kind of a problem,” Smith said

It also may be that the city hasn’t seen a major rate increase in 10 to 15 years. Smith said they’ve done small increases, but that wasn’t keeping up with the cost.

“The utility was not making any money. Certainly, we were losing money,” Smith said.

However, now some residents believe they're the ones being drained dry.

"I mean people are struggling to pay bills as it is so for $50 I know it’s a lot for me and pretty sure it’s a lot for people that’s really struggling to pay their bills so I hope I can get it decreased,” Black said.

Smith said if anyone has concerns about their bill to contact city hall. They have an open-door policy.

Still, some said they plan to start a petition on the spike in water bills.

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