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A list of Aqua NC's environmental violations. This is the second story in a three-part series about Aqua North Carolina. The first story addressed Aqua NC's potential sale of water to the controversial South development.

Next week we'll examine the cost of Aqua NC water. At Juli Williams' house, you have just three seconds to wet your toothbrush. The dishwasher may be operated only with permission. And for that money, Williams says, the bathtub is stained brown from water that comes from community wells operated by Aqua North Carolina. While the company touts its "well-deserved reputation for rehabilitating water and wastewater facilities" to meet its "high performance standards," many of its North Carolina customers dispute that claim.

They have complained to the company and to state environmental and utilities officials about poor water quality, dry wells, high rates and subpar customer service.

They have vented on message boards and signed petitions protesting Aqua's business practices. Privately owned water utilities such as Aqua are proliferating.

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An estimated 69 percent of public water systemsthose that furnish water to at least 25 customersin the U. A confluence of events has nurtured the growth of private ownership: Unlike publicly owned utilities, such as those operated by cities and towns, private companies aren't held to high levels of transparency. Consumers can't follow the money.

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And with profit as a motive, these private companies, some customers and policy analysts say, favor the shareholders over the public good. Tom Roberts, president of Aqua NC, says shareholders reap the benefits of a well-run company that prioritizes its customers. Aqua America's annual report includes a photograph of a sink full of sudsy, clean waternot the brown, sediment-flecked liquid that often flows from Tony DeLuca's faucet.

Here, the homes are painted in muted earth tones, which often match the color of the water.

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