New leak repair program being offered to low-income New Hanover County residents

Leaking pipes can be expensive to fix and a new pilot program can help cover the costs for certain households.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 7:42 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - From freezing issues during the winter to post-storm damage, leaking pipes can be costly to fix, especially if you’re already struggling to make ends meet.

A new program launched with WATERway NC seeks to help people fix damaged or broken pipes, and some might have gone through this organization for another reason in the past.

WATERway NC has been known since 2019 to help people struggling with their water bills with an emergency one-time payment. Now, a new program will use that method to help cover the repair costs of busted pipes.

The organization noticed that people in our area aren’t only struggling with their water bills, but are also experiencing a high number of busted pipes. It also saw how effective similar repair programs have been around the country.

The nonprofit received an $85,000 endowment from New Hanover County last year for this program and has teamed up with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) and Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM), an organization that helps with home repairs in low-income households. Together, these organizations designed a program that would allow them to test whether a leak repair program would work in the Cape Fear area.

WARM has been doing repair work in Wilmington since 1996 and now it looks forward to the new partnership with WATERway NC. Data from this new program will also help the organization catch leaks before serious damage happens.

“If we can get to that leak first and fix that before the other damage occurs within the house, then that’s a much better situation for the homeowners. And so, as they are maybe struggling to pay their bills month to month, but then you add on top of that damage that was added because of a leak,” said Andy Jones, director of strategic growth for WARM.

The tricky part is knowing when you leak. Experts say that if you are using more than 12,000 gallons a month, then you most likely leak somewhere. It’s also smart to look for wet spots on the ceilings and floors.

The co-founder of WATERway NC, Lindsey Hallock, is proud to be launching this pilot program and hopes it will make a real impact on those who need it the most.

“We have a lot of low-income people in this town and the cost of living is rising and utility bills are a big part of that. So, if we can make these repairs, if we can do them successfully, and we can reach as many people as possible, I think that we’ll be able to really start addressing some of the chronic causes of water bill affordability,” said Hallock.

WATERway NC is also considering replacing old appliances. If you have an old appliance that’s not very water efficient, you can include that on the application and WATERway NC will consider replacing that appliance to help lower the cost of your water bill.

For programs like these to work, volunteers are needed. WARM is always looking for volunteers to work alongside the trained field staff and lend a helping hand. No experience is needed and all tools, materials and training will be provided. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.

This program is only available for people in New Hanover County, but the organization hopes to one day serve all of the seven counties that WARM helps with its other services.

To fill out an application, click here.