Rogersville water customers will now get some relief on big bills caused by leaks

Jeff Bobo • Jun 7, 2018 at 10:44 AM

ROGERSVILLE — It won't be a total reprieve but Rogersville water customers are now receiving some relief once per year when a leak on their side of the water meter drives up their water bill.

On Tuesday the Rogersville Water Commission approved a leak policy recommended by Commissioner Mark DeWitte, although for some members it was more of a 12 month tryout to see how the policy works.

The previous policy called for customers with large bills to be placed on a payment plan but didn’t offer them a break on their bill.

The Water Commission has been trying to come up with a new policy to address leaks for the past several month after three customers requested relief from large water bills caused by a leak.

The most extreme case was presented by Kenneth Stapleton who repaired a leak in the ground the same day he received a water bill for $258, which is three times his normal bill.

What Stapleton didn't find out until the next month was that the Rogersville Water Department sends out its bills with a one month delay.

By the time he fixed his leak in the ground it had been leaking for more than a month, resulting in a $1,963 bill.

The solution proposed by DeWitte Tuesday was to allow one bill adjustment every 12 months for up to two consecutive bills when a leak would have taken place.

If the leak takes place in an easily accessible pipe such as a toilet, faucet, hose or exposed basement water line, the bill will be adjusted to three times that customer's average monthly bill for the year preceding the leak; and there won't be an adjustment to the sewer portion of the bill.

Two of the three leak cases that were appealed to the water commissioner recently were leaks to exposed basement water pipes.

If the leak occurs in an inaccessible area such as underground or in a wall the bill will be adjusted to twice the monthly average for the year preceding the leak; and the sewer portion of the bill will be cut in half.

Stapleton was the lone case pending before the commission that fits into this category.

The new policy will be retroactive to benefit the three pending water bill appeals.

Stapleton, who is a non-resident without sewer, told the commission last month that a normal bill is about $70, which means his $1,963 bill should be reduced to about $140.

Commissioner Bill Sharp said he was uncomfortable with allowing a refund once a year. Sharp said it may not create enough incentive for customers to replace or repair their lines properly, as opposed to a short term patch.

Chairman Ed Pace said was concerned with the aspect of the policy requiring written verification that the leak has been repaired.

Pace said there may be some aspects of the policy that need to be addressed after its been in place and evaluated for a year or so.

You can read the full policy in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net


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