CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) – Does water have a taste? For residents living in one part of New Hanover County, the answer appears to be a resounding yes, and it's not exactly a good taste, either.
Leaders in Carolina Beach hope to quench the problem with a massive water quality improvement project.
Mayor Bob Lewis says the number one complaint he gets is about the quality of water on the island; specifically, the taste. He says the problem comes from salt water that is injected into the piping system.
We set up a taste test using water from our station in Wilmington versus water from Carolina Beach. As we found out, most people were easily able to tell the difference.
After just one sip, Marah Treppel knew exactly what she was drinking.
"This is Carolina Beach [water]," said Treppel. "Wilmington tastes more refreshing. It tastes cleaner."
Mayor Lewis says he is aware of the problem. He showed us the town's plans to re-vamp the water and sewer system in Carolina Beach. Over the next two years, the town plans to spend $13 million to replace a six-mile stretch of outdated pipes.
"Some pipes haven't been replaced since the 1950s," said Lewis. "So, it's time we did something."
Construction crews will start working next month, beginning on Canal Drive near Cape Fear Boulevard, in the heart of the central business district. The project will involve intermittent road closures while crews work to replace the old two-inch galvanized pipes with new six-inch PVC pipes.
Mayor Lewis said the plan is to break the project into six phases, to cut down on traffic congestion. He says right now is the perfect time to begin a project of this magnitude.
"If we waited five more years to put the same plan in place, it would cost us twice as much just from interest costs," said Lewis.
Lewis said that everyone will notice a drastic increase in the quality of their drinking water. Until then, Treppel says she will remember the unwritten rule.
"We don't drink tap water, it's always filtered," said Treppel. "It just doesn't taste very good."
The majority of the $13 million used for the project will come from the town's reserve fund in addition to a no interest loan from the federal Clean Water Act. Mayor Lewis says there will be no increase in water and sewer rates for residents.
Lewis says that town leaders are still seeking public input on this project. They plan to schedule a public hearing at their next council meeting on Sept. 17.
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