SPRING HOPE, N.C. (WNCN) — People in the small town of Spring Hope say they’ve been dealing with brown water and low pressure for more than a month.
“A lot of times, the water will be really, really dark, so I consider this good,” Kyle Prichard said while holding a glass of dingy water he got from his kitchen tap. “We shouldn’t have to be okay with that, we should have clear water.”
CBS 17 first met Pritchard back in June, shortly after the Nash County town recently experienced four water main breaks. One of the breaks left residents without water for three days.
Once the water main was fixed, Fan Whitley says the town assured her the water was safe.
“We got a call from the town that the water was okay and that I could drink it,” she said.
But when Whitley turned on her water spigot, she was disturbed by what she saw.
“This dark brown water came out and I said ‘oh my goodness!’ And to think, I’m using that and filtering that. So I no longer drink the water,” said Whitley, who was born and raised in Spring Hope.
Other residents say their water pressure is still low or smells like sewage.
“We have people here that are important, too, and we deserve the attention and help that other places get,” said Beth Baines who lives in Spring Hope.
Envirolink maintains Spring Hope’s water. At last month’s town hall meeting, the company told residents the water is safe. But some worry decaying infrastructure could be contaminating it.
George Barnar says his art studio in Spring Hope also has questionable water.
He explained, “The interior of the building, the pipes are fairly new, it’s the pipes in the street that are giving us a problem… Whatever the problem is, it needs to be corrected.”
Prichard emailed State Senator Lisa Barnes, who represents Spring Hope.
“Senator Lisa Barnes announced that they introduced a $3.7 million budget line item to the state’s budget, which, of course, that has to go through approval this fall,” Prichard said. “The $3.7 million is nice, that’s a phenomenal accomplishment. We’re very, very appreciative of that. But there was a more critical emergency need.”
When Prichard asked about emergency funding he says, “They replied the next day saying we were denied the DEQ emergency funding.”
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water said it hasn’t received a request for emergency funding in Spring Hope since 2012.
“We would appreciate any bit of funding that they’ll give us to correct this problem and to help us,” said Whitley.
A DEQ spokesperson said that emergency loans are only available for serious public health hazards. Because the water in Spring Hope meets EPA drinking standards, the town isn’t eligible.
“When we look at the initial reply about why they didn’t approve emergency funding. They were looking in the wrong direction,” said Pritchard.
He added, “If someone sitting in an office in Raleigh making those decisions says ‘that it’s not an emergency,’ I ask them to turn the main water valve to their house off for three days and then let me know if it’s an emergency.”