WARD — The slow but steadily growing number of homes with leaky copper pipes is no surprise to the more than 900 followers of Cabot-Ward Leaks on Facebook.
Owners of nearly 250 homes that use Ward drinking water have had to replace some or all of their pipes, and some neighbors not yet affected worry they may be next, several residents said.
Real estate agent Daniel Sallinger began managing the online page that started in March 2019 after he experienced the now-typical pinhole leaks, which led to over $40,000 in repair and replacement costs, he said.
Sallinger, with the help of a few others who went door to door, have kept track of the homes affected and the list continues to grow, he said. The confirmed 220-house count has more than doubled since the 100 publicly reported a year ago, according to Sallinger’s map.
All the Ward, Cabot and Austin houses affected are on the Ward Water and Sewer System, which started receiving calls regarding water leaks in January 2019, according to a Copper Water Pipe Failures report by the city.
The system gets its supply through the Lonoke-White Public Water Authority from Greers Ferry Lake. Several other systems use this water source: Austin, Beebe, Furlow, Grand Prairie/Bayou Two, Jacksonville and Mid-Arkansas Utilities Vilonia Water as well as Ward are all represented on the Lonoke-White board.
Ward Mayor Charles Gastineau said that the problems have been discussed at board meetings, but to his knowledge, no other areas are affected.
“There’s lots of theories, but you can’t replicate the theory to say, ‘This is the cause’. That’s the headache and frustration for not only the homeowner but for my administration and other administrations also,” Gastineau said.
‘UNTIL IT HAPPENED TO ME’
Many residents attended a May 2019 town-hall meeting in Ward about the pipe problems and directed questions to Gastineau and Cabot Mayor Ken Kincade, who did not return calls and messages left with his office Wednesday and Friday.
“There were a lot of people throwing ideas out that really didn’t make much sense,” Sallinger said.
Kirk Hendrix, a resident in south Ward on Apricot Drive, heard about the leaks but didn’t worry about it when he moved in about two years ago.
“I’d seen on Facebook people crying about the leaks and blah, blah. I’m just thinking they’re complaining, until it happened to me,” he said.
The Ward water system checked pressures, collected samples, reviewed 25-years of data and created a list of affected houses in February of 2019, finding nothing that stood out as abnormal, according to the city’s report.
In March, the state Health Department took pH levels and sample pipes for analysis and increased the frequency of lead and copper testing for the Ward system and the Lonoke-White Public Water Authority. The department contacted “one of the leading researchers in the nation concerning water corrosion control,” according to the report. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also got…
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