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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners want to help county residents struggling to pay their Cape Fear Public Utility Authority bills. It’s a move that has some people asking why the county is getting into the charity business and wondering how the CFPUA’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors program works.

“I had to lift at least five gallons (of water from the stream) just to flush my toilet,” Talmadge Pearce said. “When you live alone and stuff like that, and you’ve been operated on, you know, that’s kind of rough.”

Pearce knows what it’s like not to be able to pay your water bill. The vietnam war veteran would go to the local stream to get water for his everyday needs. Now he’s one of many people in New Hanover County who has benefited from the CFPUA’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors program.

“There’s so many families out there that are strapped for everything,” United Way of the Cape Fear Area President Chris Nelson said. “They’re making decisions between food or utilities, so they’re eating. Hence they don’t have water.”

That’s why the CFPUA started Neighbors Helping Neighbors back in 2009. Because it is a charity program, the CFPUA cannot manage it. Instead the utility teamed up with the Salvation Army and United Way.

“The source of the funds is two different sources right now,” Nelson said. “One is to pay the city for their storm water and their trash, and the second fund is the actual CFPUA to help people either turn their water on or to pay some past bills.”

The United Way says donated money goes directly to the utility, and no cash is put in anyone’s hands. Both the donor and the Salvation Army determine who will get the assistance by looking at applicants and their level of need.

Pearce heard about the program after we reported on a large donation last month. He says the program is a blessing for those in need

“I don’t care who you are or what race you are or whatever,” Pearce said. “We all are in this country together and we need to learn to live together. We need to learn to reach out to one another unselfishly.”

The United Way says it expects to have the $10,000 the county collected available for the program this week.

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11 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: A look at CFPUA program to help residents without water"

2015 years 10 months ago

Get rid of the “Mister Jones subsidizing Mister Smith” mentality. Your cost projections regarding who pays more are still based on your tiers. Let people purchase water by the actual gallon consumed and then people will have to pay for only what they use. There will be an incentive to conserve. Many single people use very little water because they’re at work all day.

Your whole rate structure is nutty. Suppose a customer doesn’t need one thousand gallons a month? Why can’t they pay for only six-hundred if that’s what they used?

By the same token, why should a customer with a large pool have to pay more per thousand gallon increment than any other customer? We have to put up with the “soak the rich” mentality even in water rates?

Charge people based upon what they use, not a package of what YOU think they need, and get out of the wealth redistribution business. Flat rate, per gallon pricing: The ultimate in fairness.

2015 years 10 months ago

Get rid of your Socialist tier structure and start charging by gallons actually consumed.

The tier structure provides absolutely no incentive to conserve water, makes some people pay for more water than they need, and spreads the misery of high rates among every customer.

Let the people pay for the water they truly use and nothing more.

Stop making elderly, retired widows pay extra so that families with several children can pay less.

2015 years 10 months ago

There is nothing socialist in the structure, you idiot. It’s just stupid.

2015 years 10 months ago

Get rid of your Socialist tier structure and start charging by gallons actually consumed.
I live alone, disabled, use LESS Water than a Family of even 2 people….
Yet tier 1, on the “water usage/sewage etc”, has me paying for a family of 4…I use LESS THAN 300 gallons a MONTH!(I “conserve water/usage”)..
Where’s the “Fairness/Justice” in THAT!

Guest Lee
2015 years 10 months ago

I’m totally with you. It seems to me that families who have several children have obviously decided at some point in the past that they could support several children sufficiently without any kind of lack(if they’re responsible parents). If they can’t afford even water for those kids, maybe they shouldn’t have had several and should have had only 1 or 2.

2015 years 10 months ago

Actually, our current tiered rate structure is more equitable to that “elderly retired widow”. Folks using less than 12,000 gallons every two months are charged in the first tier; i.e. charged less per gallon for essential water use than the higher tiers. The customers that use more water, beyond the 12,000 even 24,000 gallon mark, are charged more. If we were to go to a uniform rate as you have suggested, those folks using less and paying less would have to pay more and the folks using more would pay less. Think of it as a teeter-totter. Mathematically, it has been calculated that our uniform rate would be about $3.41. Our current third tier (over 24,000 gallons) is $5.98. The uniform rate would charge them $2.57 less per thousand gallon. If charged a uniform rate, the average bills for those using more water would go down. Our current rate for first tier is $2.64. That would mean our first tier low consumption users would pay .77 cents more per thousand. For the almost 90% of all of our customers that never use more than the first tier (more than 12,000 gallons every two months), that would mean their average bill would go up. In the end, CFPUA must generate a certain amount of revenue to run the system and pay for projects (and there are hundreds of millions of dollars of them.) The Board has retained the existing rate structure to provide essential water use at the lowest cost and to encourage conservation by charging more for high volume water users.

Latwanda Shamele
2015 years 10 months ago

CFPUA really needs to look at their billing practice… For a family having a plethora of kids, it costs that family more for water when the intention is to prevent by penalty, the overuse and abuse of water.
CFPUA should consider giving residents that can prove ligitimatly they ghave more than four individuals living on premise that ARE DEPENDENTS the ability to pay at the smaller family rate.
It is unfair to penalize hard working American famailies who are working just because they have more than one or two children.
<y sister pays more for her water per gallon than I do because she has four children….
That.. makes NO sense and ios not fair when she and her husband work and are behind on bills because of …. water…. She does twice the laundry I do, and there are two more baths a day… If her gallon rate was the same as mine, she would be paying alomst $25 a month less than she is now for the same amount of gallons ised at my current rate.

CFPUA… why to you penalize hard working famalies like that?

Reginald Denny
2015 years 10 months ago


Guest Lee
2015 years 10 months ago

At least you HAVE water…this article is talking about those who don’t.

Maybe you should consider birth control from here on out? Then you wouldn’t have to work so hard if you had fewer children to support.

Guest CommonTater
2015 years 10 months ago

that every child has a cost factor. Two children cost more than one and so on. This should be considered prior to having many children. What can you afford to take care of properly? “You” are responsible for the costs associated with having the children “you” want. Have all you want but don’t expect that they be paid for by someone else. I see no reason folks should be subsidized because of their choices. Too much of that going on as is! Have all the kids you want but you gotta pay for all the associated costs of having them…. If it costs you more to wash 5 than 2 so be it, pay the bill as it’s nobody else’s place as we all have lives of our own.

2015 years 10 months ago

OK, let me get this straight. CFPUA should change their billing practice for families because some people choose to have an over abundance of kids? Are you serious?

Listen, if parents can’t even afford to pay for basic water needs for their “plethora” of kids, they made the wrong decision to have so many. Responsible parents make sure that they can, at the very least, provide food, water, clothing and shelter for their kids until they reach at least 18 years of age.

On average, it costs approximately $250,000 to raise a child until they are 18. For parents who put their kids through college, tuition can add as much as $10,000 or more to that estimate.

“It is unfair to penalize hard working American famailies who are working just because they have more than one or two children.” – OK, those families really should have thought about it ahead of time and realized that if they had less children, they wouldn’t have to work so hard. They should never have more children than they can sufficiently support. It’s not fair to the kids to have to live in poverty, and it’s not fair to the taxpayers who sometimes wind up having to support those kids because the parents didn’t make responsible decisions. Children are a big responsibility. If you can’t properly support them…don’t have them.


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