This month on “Wonderful Water,” join 97.9 The Hill’s Brighton McConnell for a conversation with OWASA’s Sustainability Program Coordinator Amy Armbruster and Kat Reach of Hope Renovations about the third-annual Care to Share Day and OWASA’s Affordability Program!

Care to Share is OWASA’s bill-assistance program to help customers who struggle to pay their water bills, and this year one of the most talked-about aspects of utilities is the ongoing effect of COVID-19 on past-due payment. OWASA suspended disconnections for non-payment temporarily in March of 2020, and since then has seen an increase in the number of customers past due on water bills. Care to Share, administered in partnership with the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, is a community-driven effort to assist those who need it.

“So, in Naples, in Southern Italy, they have this beautiful tradition. If you’re feeling good and you have a little bit of extra money, when you go to buy your morning cup of coffee, you can pay in advance for someone who doesn’t have enough money to afford a cup,” said Armbruster. “It’s called ‘caffè sospeso,’ or, ‘suspended coffee,’ … I think it’s just lovely, and care to share is the Chapel Hill-Carboro version of caffè sospeso. So, it’s ‘suspended water.'”

According to Armbruster, North Carolina state law prevents water and wastewater utilities to charge discounted rates to low-income customers or forgive debt incurred. Care to Share is an effort to mitigate stress and struggle for people struggling to make ends meet.

“100% of the money that you give goes to help our neighbors in this community who are struggling,” said Armbruster “… So many members of our community are impacted by COVID-19 and struggling to make ends meet, struggling to pay their bills for essential services like water. The need is greater than ever before.”

Click on the following links to learn more about Care to Share Day and OWASA’s Affordability Program.

You can listen below to the full conversation below, and visit the Wonderful Water page here for more interviews and stories about the work OWASA does in our community.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents use roughly 7 million gallons of water a day, and “Wonderful Water” is a monthly conversation sponsored by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority highlighting its work to keep our community growing and water flowing.