Nearly 6,400 water customers living in three of the Wayne Water Districts are now receiving water from the city of Goldsboro.

Customers in the Southeastern Wayne Sanitary District, Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District and the Eastern Wayne Sanitary District were notified in November that supplies would be treated differently on the city system.

Residents will remain customers of the Wayne Water Districts and prices are not planned to change because of the switchover, said Joey Threewitts, Wayne Water Districts operations manager.

"The water rates in all three districts will remain the same," he said. "We've had some incremental increases over the years. It's already built into the rate structure.

"The driving force behind purchasing the water from the city of Goldsboro is the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use rules," he said.

The state rules require reducing the amount of groundwater pulled from area aquifers, due to increasing use from multiple sources, at a level that the aquifers cannot recharge or refill to meet ongoing demand, he said.

Regulations reduced the amount of water the Wayne Water Districts could use in 2008 and again in 2013. Additional reductions are set to take place in 2018.

"In order to have water now and in the future, we had to come up with water from another source," Threewitts said.

Water lines and connections between the districts and the city were put in place years ago, following a 2009 mutual-aid agreement that provides the district with city water during a drought or other emergency, said Michael Wagner, Goldsboro deputy public works director of utilities.

"For about a decade, they've been in place," Wagner said of the infrastructure.

In 2009, the Wayne Water Districts and the city of Goldsboro entered into a water sales agreement, which was recently updated and requires the districts to use a minimum of 1 million gallons of city water each day.

The districts are paying the city the lowest residential rate the city charges to Goldsboro residential customers, which is $2.15 per 748 gallons, Wagner said.

Residential customers receiving water from the Wayne Water Districts currently pay an average monthly bill of $37, according to district figures.

The change from groundwater to city water supplies involves a different water treatment process. Wayne Water Districts use chlorine to treat groundwater. The city of Goldsboro uses chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, to treat surface water, primarily from the Neuse River, Wagner said

"It's better with taste," Wagner said. "It's better with odor. It's better with disinfecting byproducts."

Water treated with chloramines cannot be used in aquariums or for kidney dialysis patients, according to a letter sent to Wayne Water Districts customers.

"That was mainly to let anybody know if they had an aquarium or are on dialysis to see what steps (they need) to take," Threewitts said.

"Anybody in these three districts, if they go out to eat or if they're going into the city, they're already using city water."

Water customers affected by the change have contacted city officials with concern that areas served by the water districts would be annexed and residents would become city water customers. Wagner said neither concern is true.

"Really, for us, they're not our water customers," Wagner said. "They're on their own public water supply. We just have new customers, the three water districts."

The city of Goldsboro is permitted to treat 12 million gallons of water per day, an amount that is expected to increase to 14.2 million following the addition of equipment at the water treatment plant, in 2018, Wagner said.

Customers served by the Southwestern Wayne Sanitary District and Northwestern Wayne Sanitary District are continuing to receive water from area wells.