Community Service through Conservation
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, unrepaired household leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide. That’s enough water to fill about 40 million swimming pools and about 24 billion bathtubs and serve 11 million homes for one year. Household leaks not only waste one of Earth’s most precious natural resources, they can also cause headaches for homeowners who face costly utility bills and repairs.
Southface’s Care & Conserve Plumbing Repair Program (CCPRP) provides elderly, low- to moderate-income and disabled Atlanta homeowners with free plumbing repair service, bill payment assistance and installation of water-efficient fixtures. CCPRP provides up to $1,500 of service work to homes requiring non-sewer line repair or replacement and up to $2,500 for homes that need a sewer line repair or replacement.
The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management selected Southface to administer CCPRP throughout City of Atlanta Council Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 12, which are primarily located on Atlanta’s east side.
Gwen Smith joined Southface in March 2018 after hearing about the organization’s education and training offerings. She leads Southface’s CCPRP implementation, serving as Associate Fellow and Project Coordinator.
In this capacity, Smith is responsible for spreading the word about CCPRP’s offerings throughout the seven districts it serves. Additionally, she manages the customer intake process, which entails going to residents’ homes to assess their plumbing needs, current water consumption and instances of lead-based piping. During the assessments, Smith educates homeowners on water conservation, showing them how and where they can reduce water usage without disrupting quality of life.
Workforce development programming is also part of CCPRP. Through WorkSource Atlanta, Atlanta Technical College and Talon Plumbing, CCPRP sources and trains plumbing contractors to provide service work in the communities in which they live. Working with CCPRP’s workforce development partners, Smith coordinates obtaining bids and scheduling repairs at the resident’s home.
Through Summer 2019, Southface hopes to provide CCPRP service to 150 eligible households, which presents an opportunity to save thousands of gallons of water and dollars for each recipient. Outcomes like these are at the heart of Southface’s mission to promote sustainable homes, workplaces and communities.
Smith said that one of the most challenging aspects of CCPRP is when the cost of a client’s required repairs exceeds the threshold of service CCPRP can provide, so that she’s unable to assist the homeowner as much as they really need.
“However, the most rewarding aspect is seeing the smiles on the face of our customers after their repairs are complete,” she said.