NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Last year, a CFPUA customer in southern New Hanover County asked to disconnect from the utility’s water service in order to use his own water, thus avoiding exposure to GenX and other PFAS. After some legal wrangling, it appears he reached a nearly unique agreement with CFPUA — although he’ll still have to pay a bi-monthly fee for the option to reconnect.
On March 14, 2018, CFPUA customer James Kadner addressed the board to ask to allow him to disconnect from CFPUA water. Although CFPUA’s “mandatory connect” policy prohibits customers from disconnecting water or sewer service once it is established, Kadner argues that his specific medical history made it detrimental for him to be exposed to CFPUA-supplied water.
Kadner, who had also sparred with CFPUA over allegations of overcharging due to a faulty water meter, had made several earlier appearances at board meetings, including one in January of 2018 that ended with him comparing the utility to the mafia, provoking board member Charlie Rivenbark to essentially tell Kadner he should go back to New York, where he had lived prior to moving to the Wilmington area.
During the subsequent April 11, 2018 board meeting CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner updated the board on Kadner’s issues during closed session. According to the documentation provided by CFPUA, Kadner and the utility reached an agreement in late August, finalized in early September.
A rare ‘variance’ to disconnect, temporarily, from CFPUA
CFPUA issued a “temporary disconnection variance,” which allowed Kadner to “…connect his residence to a private drinking water well due to health concerns documented by both a toxicologist and his personal physician from the impact of GENX and other related chemicals in his drinking water provided by CFPUA.”
According to CFPUA, this was the only recent agreement of its kind, and the only one based on concerns about GenX.
The three-year variance was issued based on Kadner’s “specific health history” and included a number of provisions. These included that Kadner remain connected to CFPUA sewer service and have his well appropriately permitted by the New Hanover County Health Department.
Kadner also agreed to pay a fee for the “availability” of CFPUA water, should he change his mind.
“Mr. Kadnar agrees to pay the ‘Availability Fee’ of $26.67 per billing cycle for the water connection that currently is available to his residence or the prevailing ‘Availability fee’ rate as calculated in the Rate and Fee Schedule. This fee ensures that Mr. Kadnar may, at any time, during this three-year variance, by written request, reconnect to public drinking water provided by CFPUA,” according to the agreement.
Kadner’s variance expires in 2021, but he can request an extension “if elevated levels of chemicals (GenX, PFOA, PFOS, chloroform, trihalomethanes) and/or high levels of sodium.”
It’s not clear what became of Kadner’s other complaints against CFPUA, including his claim that over a 17-month period he had repeatedly received “excessive bills,” ranging from 20,000 gallons per bill to a $1,100 bill for 250,000 gallons of water usage in August of 2017.
According to recordings of a January 10, 2018 meeting, once CFPUA replaced a digital meter at Kadner’s residence with a mechanical one, his bills dropped to showing around 9,000 gallons per bill. CFPUA admitted no fault during the meeting. According to a CFPUA spokesperson, individual customer accounts are confidential, so it is not known if Kadner ever received a refund.
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