Hillsborough County Commission votes to not renew Pluris water c - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough County Commission votes to not renew Pluris water contract

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Water in East Lake neighborhood Water in East Lake neighborhood
Protestors at County Commission Protestors at County Commission
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - A group of Tampa residents who bound together to fight their private utility company won a big battle Wednesday.

Frustrated residents in Tampa's East Lake neighborhood, near the Hard Rock Casino, protested at Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting. Thirty residents spoke at the meeting, pleading with commissioners to help.

About 1,000 residents in the neighborhood are forced to get their water from a private utility, Pluris American Infrastructure. Residents say their water is often cloudy, with chunks floating in it, and their bills are more than double what residents on county water pay.

County officials say the utility needs major upgrades and that's why water quality is up to residents' standards, even though samples have come back in "acceptable" ranges.

8 on Your Side profiled the neighborhood's problems this week and was there Wednesday when residents addressed the county commission.

The commission had a big decision to make because Pluris, which has operated this utility for the past 10 years, wanted to renew its contract for another 10 years. In the end, the commissioners voted 7-0 to deny the utility's request.

Related story: Tampa neighborhood complains of cloudy water

"This is more than just about good drinking water and infrastructure," said Commissioner Kevin Beckner. "This is about social justice. This is an issue of equality and social justice."

Commissioners want the county to buy the utility and improve the water system.

But this vote won't change things soon. Pluris isn't for sale, and the county will have to fight Pluris in court, in order to persuade a judge to force Pluris to sell.

So, in the meantime, residents are stuck with Pluris.

"I think that after over two years of coming down here on different issues regarding Pluris, our commissioners have responded, and that's their job," said Hal Hart, a Pluris customer and East Lake resident.

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