Sinkholes on rise in Winterville, town cites old pipes

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – If you drive around Winterville, you may notice an increase in the number, and size, of sinkholes.

A viewer contacted WNCT about the growing problem. Gary Camarro said it has only gotten worse with time, despite contacting town officials multiple times.

“There was no direct answer for how it could be handled,” Camarro said.

In his backyard, there are at least four sinkholes that continue to grow. The biggest hole measures nearly 2 feet deep, and more than 2 feet wide.

He, and town officials, say old pipes can’t handle the volume of water they now receive. Over the years, the pipes have also started to leak, creating the perfect storm for sink holes to start forming.

“I’m just concerned that someone, even someone cutting through the property, could accidentally step into one of these sinkholes and break their leg,” Camarro said.

It’s a concern shared by Winterville Assistant Town Manager Ben Williams. Williams said the town just wrapped up a $70,000 study to determine just how big a problem the aging pipe and drainage system was.

The study showed there was more than $6 million worth of repairs needed. Nearly $1.8 million is needed just to repair the Nobel Drainage basin, which encompasses Railroad St. where Camarro lives.

Williams said the town is prepared to pay $1.2 million, but is now looking for assistance with the rest of the $600,000. He said until they secure that, work likely can’t begin. Even after funding has been secured, it will likely take well over a year to complete work.

“There are issues upstream from me that have to be addressed first, so basically we’re on the low end of the totem pole here,” Camarro said.

The town encourages people to report any sinkholes they see.

The town did just receive a $1 million grant to replace an old culvert damaged during Hurricane Matthew.

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