Water Service FAQs

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Do you supply my water or does one of the towns?

The Dare County Public Water Supply System consists of five separate distribution systems. They cover the communities listed below:

  • Southern Shores, Duck, Kitty Hawk and Colington
  • Unincorporated areas of Roanoke Island not serviced by Manteo
  • Stumpy Point
  • Rodanthe, Waves Salvo
  • Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras

Where does our water come from?

The Dare County Water Department operates five water treatment facilities.

We operate four Reverse Osmosis water treatment plants that desalt groundwater from wells drilled down to about 300 to 400 feet below the ground near the plant. This process could treat Atlantic Ocean water, but the groundwater is much less salty and easier to treat. These plants are located in Kill Devil Hills, Stumpy Point, Rodanthe, and Frisco.

Our fifth plant, located on Roanoke Island, softens fresher well water (200 feet deep) by Anion Exchange and Nanofiltration. Anion Exchange is a form of water treatment where water passes through a media bed to remove impurities from the water. Nanofiltration is a membrane process used for the removal of disinfection by-product precursors such as natural organic matter.

What is reverse osmosis?

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a form of water treatment where we pump water through membranes to remove impurities from the water. Our computerized system removes over 97% of the total dissolved minerals from the well water.

How much fluoride and/or sodium is in the water?

Fluoride 

0.75 parts per million (ppm). The State of North Carolina maximum is 4.0 ppm, but the recommended dosage is between 0.7-1.0 ppm to minimize dental decay. All of the treatment chemicals are added and controlled by computer. 

The goal of the fluoride treatment is to add enough to prevent tooth decay while avoiding unwanted health effects from too much fluoride. (NC Public Water Supply Position Statement February 2, 2011)

Sodium 

The average amount of sodium in the finished products at the Skyco Ion/Anion Exchange and Reverse Osmosis (KDH) water plants varies between 100 and 120 ppm. At the RO Plant in Rodanthe - 40-60 ppm.

The maximum allowable level for sodium is 250 ppm. We have been advised that our customers that are on a moderate sodium restricted diet should consume no more than 270 milligrams of sodium per day, that equals about a half of a gallon of water per day. Those customers on an extremely restrictive diet (20 milligrams per day) should resort to bottled water for consumption.

Where can I have my water tested?

Each of our five water treatment facilities have a staffed laboratory. For no charge to our customers, we will sample and test your water to assure you that you are receiving the best and safest water possible. Please call us if you are concerned and we will respond that day, if possible.

How much is the minimum bill?

All metered accounts are charged a base that includes 0-3000 gallons of water starting with ¾ inch at $38.20. All non- metered accounts are any account that has never had a meter will be billed starting at $15.41 the cost is based on meter size.

Yes, the base charge of $15.41 does have to be paid each billing cycle.

I have a water leak. Do you give any kind of adjustment or any kind of help?

Yes. If you show proof of a water leak repair, we may be able to adjust your bill.

May I pay my bill with my credit card?

Yes, we accept MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. Online payments can also be made at the following website: https://darencfin.munisselfservice.com/citizens/UtilityBilling/Default.aspx Payments can also be made by calling (1) 888-272-9829. The jurisdiction code is 3955. Your account number will be needed when you call.

How soon is my water bill payment processed?

Utility bill payments must be made not less than 24 hours prior to a due date or disconnection date to allow sufficient time for processing. Payments made less than 24 hours prior to 12:01 AM on the due date or disconnection date may not be processed in time to prevent late charges or disconnection of service for nonpayment of the bill.

Example #1: If your due date is the 22nd of the month, you should enter your payment no later than midnight on the 20th.

Example #2: If your disconnect notice states "Pay before shutoff date of 08/08/2005," you should enter your payment no later than midnight on the 6th. You must pay at least the minimum amount due as shown on the disconnect notice to avoid disconnection.

Online payments are processed by 8:00 AM each business day. If your payment does not appear on that morning's batch, your account may be subject to late penalties and/or disconnection of service.

How do I contact the billing department in regards to my account or water service?

E-mail us at water@darenc.com or call 252.475.5990.

What is done when a hurricane approaches the area?

Each of our five water facilities will remain staffed with volunteers to ensure that all elevated and ground storage tanks are filled with drinking water for clean up, cooking and other essential uses after the storm passes, if necessary. All five plants have auxiliary generator power and are built to withstand hurricane wind forces. Minimal staff are on hand to ensure consistent water service to our customers, yet keeping the safety of personnel of utmost importance.

What is the pink "stuff" in my toilet, shower or pet’s dish?

Serratia marcescens Bacteria

Each year, a few customers call the water treatment plant to ask about a slimy pink substance that sometimes forms in moist areas around their homes. They most frequently observe it in toilet bowls, on surfaces, in shower stalls and bathtub enclosures, on tiles, in sinks, and in pet water dishes.

A red or pink pigmented bacteria known as Serratia marcescens is thought to be the cause of the pink “stuff”. Serratia bacteria are common inhabitants of our environment and can be found in many places, including human and animal feces, dust, soil, and in surface waters. The bacteria will grow in any moist location where phosphorous containing materials or fatty substances accumulate. Sources of these substances include soap residues in bathing areas, feces in toilets, soap and food residues in pet water dishes. Many times, the pinkish film appears during and after new construction or remodeling activities. Others have indicated the pink “stuff” occurs during a time of year that their windows are open for the majority of the day. These airborne bacteria can come from any number of naturally occurring sources, and the condition can be further aggravated if customers remove the chlorine from their water by way of an activated carbon filter.

Serratia can also grow in tap water in locations such as toilets in guest bathrooms where the water is left standing long enough for the chlorine residual disinfectant to dissipate. Serratia will not survive in chlorinated drinking water. Serratia marcescens is not known to cause any waterborne diseases. Members of the Serratia genus were once known as harmless organisms that produced a characteristic red pigment. More recently, Serratia marcescens has been found to be pathogenic to some people, having been identified as a cause of urinary tract infections, wound infections, and pneumonia in hospital environments. Once established, the organism usually cannot be eliminated entirely. However, periodic and thorough cleaning of the surfaces where the pink slime occurs, followed by disinfection with chlorine bleach appear to be the best way to control it.

To clean pet water dishes, bathroom and kitchen surfaces:

  • Scrub the surfaces where phosphorous and fatty substances or the bacteria accumulate with a brush and a household cleanser.
  • Then disinfect the surfaces where the slime has formed with a strong chlorine bleach solution.
  • Leave the disinfectant solution on the affected surface(s) for 10-20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing away with clean water.
  • Use care with abrasives to avoid scratching the fixtures, which will make them even more susceptible to the bacteria.

To control pink “stuff” in toilets:

  • Clean the bowl thoroughly and spray chlorine bleach into the bowl and under the bowl rim.
  • Also add ¼ cup of bleach to the toilet tank.
  • Let the bleach stand for 15-20 minutes.
  • After 15-20 minutes, flush the toilet a couple of times to rinse the disinfectant out of the tank and the bowl.
  • The bleach should not be left in the toilet tank for prolonged periods; it will damage the rubber valves and seals inside.
  • Whenever a pink film starts to reappear, repeat the cleaning and disinfection process. Cleaning and flushing with chlorine will not necessarily eliminate the problem, but will help to control these bacteria. Keep bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry to avoid this problem. Using a cleaning solution that contains chlorine will help curtail the onset of the bacteria.

References: American Water Works Association, Opflow Article: Question of the Month, page 3, November 2000.
Water Quality Bulletin, Woodinville Water District, Woodinville

Why flush my water heater regularly?

Many of the inquiries Dare County Water receives about water quality issues can be traced back to the hot water tank. Inquiries we have received that were the result of hot water tank issues include small plastic pieces in water, foul-smelling water, discolored water, and "slimy" water.

By performing regular maintenance, most in-home hot water system issues can be avoided. This includes flushing the tank, checking the tank's temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve), and checking the anode rod, a 3 to 5 foot metal rod inside the tank that diminishes corrosion. These actions should be performed at least yearly and in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. 

Lack of proper maintenance can result in faster corrosion inside your hot water tank. If corroded materials that accumulate at the bottom of the tank are not regularly flushed, they can enter into hot water pipes and cause your hot water to appear rust-colored. 

Hot water tanks flushed periodically will also operate more efficiently, heating water to a higher temperature more quickly. If the burners that heat water are covered by too much sediment, water may not be heated to a high enough temperature. This can cause bacterial growth in your tank and result in hot water that has a rotten egg-like smell. 

If you find tiny pieces of plastic in your hot water or faucet aerators, the hot water tank may also be the source. Various parts inside a hot water tank are made of plastic, including some TPR valves, the temperature gauge, and the dip tube. These plastic parts are prone to break down over time due to constant contact with hot water. 

 When performing any home plumbing maintenance be sure to follow all appropriate safety guidelines and manufacturer's instructions or contact a licensed professional plumber. 

Is cold and hot water the same? 

Cold water is intended for consumption. Maintenance of the aerator screen on your faucets is one way to ensure the cold water coming into your glass is the best quality. This should be removed at least twice a year for cleaning.

Hot water starts in the hot water tank inside your home and is intended for hot water needs such as washing dishes, laundry and bathing and is not intended for drinking or cooking. This is because heated water can cause corrosion in your water tank and in your plumbing, which can impact the smell, taste, or color of the water. 

How do I flush my electric water heater?

Things you will need:

  • Garden hose
  • Large bucket
  • Funnel
  • Residential water heater cleaner
  • Water softener (optional)

Procedure

  1. Turn off the breaker to your water heater and then turn off the water supply. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes for the water in the unit to cool down.
  2. Attach a garden house to the drain valve at the base of the unit, and run the other end of the hose outside, into a large bucket or into a nearby tub. Slightly open a nearby hot water faucet in the home. Then open the drain valve and let all of the water drain out of your water heater. 
  3. Turn on the cold water supply with the garden hose still attached and the drain valve open. Let water run through the unit to clear out any sediment. When the water coming out of the end of the hose is clear, the unit is clean. 
  4. Shut the drain valve and remove the hose. Wait an hour or so for the unit to refill before trying to use the hot water. 

Tips

  • The water coming out of your faucet after you drain the water heater may come out harder or faster than normal. This is because your pipes are refilling. Let it run for one to to two minutes and it will go back to normal. 
  • Some residential water heater cleaning products are meant specifically for a gas water heater. Contact the manufacturer if the directions are unclear or if you have any questions. 

This How To was written by Amanda Bell