The LaV Water Department

I have a feeling people who work for the city – especially the water department folks – may be thinking “UH OH!” when they read the headline up there.  But no fear.  I’m here to brag about them a little.

We got our water bill last month and my husband and I nearly had a stroke.  It was almost NINETY dollars.  You read that right – $90 – and we have NO sewer fee attached since we’re on septic.  I suspect if we had to pay sewer fees on top of the water usage, our bill would’ve been like $180.  (By the way, we also got our newest electric bill with the rate increase and let me just say NES you are despicable.)

So I carry myself to the water company during lunch today to ask about this huge bill which is a good 3 times bigger than usual (it’s typically $25 to $30).  The lady working the front counter today was Tammy (get well soon, Ms. E!).  I found Tammy to be incredibly helpful and professional. She gave me her full attention, showed me a “sample” meter and told us what to look for if there is a leak somewhere in the line.   There’ s a black triangle that will spin like crazy if there’ s a leak.  If there is no triangle and there’s a leak, the hand that’s not unlike a second hand on a clock can be seen moving ever-so-slowly.

Tammy also explained that if the leak is from the street to the meter, the city would pay for repairs but if it’s from the meter to the house… well it’s on us.  I suggested that if it was from the street to the meter, then our meter might not be registering the water usage and we’re pretty sure that would be the case.  So it’ll likely be a leak we’ll be responsible for.  NOOOOOOOOO!  Sadly, yes.  Tammy went on to say that sometimes the homeowners insurance policy will pay for this, but I’ll have to contact my insurance agent to ask.  I fear that if the leak isn’t actually in or under the house, we’ll still have to eat this.  Meanwhile, Tammy also looked at our December meter reading and found that yes, the water bill is actually even higher than the November bill.  Probably a pipe failure somewhere down the yard.

Why am I stressed about it, you wonder?  Way back when, builders used polybutylene pipes which were eventually found to fail in the epic proportions.

While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout an entire system.

We talked to our AMAZING plumber (Earl Chandler of Smyrna’s Chandler Plumbing) some time ago and he gave us a ballpark figure of what the cost would be to replace our pipes leading to the house.  It ain’t pretty.

Meanwhile, Tammy said once we have repairs made (think costs in the thousands unless my insurance agent comes through) we hould bring in our paperwork showing the work was done.  At that point, the Water Department will apparently review the situation and may be able to make an adjustment to our bill.

And for all Tammy’s great advice and to their willingness to be helpful, the city Water Department gets my shout-out *slash* KUDOS today.  Thanks ladies and gentlemen.

Does anyone have any plumbing advice?

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8 Responses

  1. Oh No! I really hope it isn’t something major! On the note of NES, I can’t believe how much my bill was! Well, actually it’s that fuel adjustment they have on there. Oh wait, didn’t gas go down below what it was before they added a fuel adjustment? Hmmmmmm

  2. I hate to tell you this, Kathy, but your insurance company probably won’t cover it. If there was actual damage to your house, maybe, but there’s probably not much between your meter and your house except for grass and maybe flowerbeds. It’s worth a call though – all they can do is say “no.”

    If I’m thinking of the right pipe, it’s a bright blue and is no longer used in new construction due to its high failure rate. It was installed all over Woodland Hills when houses were being built in the late 80′s and early 90′s and I can’t begin to tell you how many people here had problems. In fact, my jack-of-all-trades/master-of-almost-everything husband rented a backhoe, dug up and replaced the blue pipe and replaced it with PVC for us and at least four of our neighbors within a 100-yard radius of our house.

    Also, before they’ll even think about adjusting your bill, you’ll need to provide them with a signed, notarized affidavit from a licensed plumber that the repairs have been made. They used to have the blank affidavit forms at City Hall, so you might want to check on that.

    One last thing – my electric bill didnt go up at all. And how do you have NES as your electric company? I thought MTEMC covered all of this area. Just curious!

  3. I have say that my electric will was $200 and I wasn’t even living in the house. I just moved out but left the electric on while I was moving stuff out. I left a few lights on and the heat which was turned down low and the bill was still that much. OUTRAGEOUS I say!!!!

  4. NES covers a portion of LV. I know we have MTEMC, but my sister-in-law, who lives only a mile or so from us, but is on the other side of ONH has NES.

  5. Must be having a brain-dead moment. I have gas heat and that’s obviously why my electric bill didn’t go up. Of course, I may be receiving a $300 gas bill in the very near future!

  6. Christie, you must have a huge house or something was wrong with your bill. Unless you had the heat set at 90, there’s no way an empty house should cost $200 in electricity. My only other thought is do you have a basement? If so you might want to make sure one of our friendly teenagers doesn’t have a bunch of flouresent lights down there growing some pot!

    When I lived in LFE I had NES electric but BellSouth phone. When I moved to Cedar Grove I got MTEMC but my only option was TDS (so of course I use Vonage). I love MTEMC, while I hate the cost of electricity going up, it’s not their fault.

    On a side note, shame on the City for not allowing natural gas lines to be run in LFE when it was being developed. What I was told is that NES offered the city a pretty penny to make that area an electric-only area. Once again citizens are forced to pay more so the city can save a nickel. That’s also why if you live in or around LFE you probably have NES,while most of the rest of the city has MTEMC.

  7. I did complain to NES but I didn’t have the heat set very high. I got nowhere other than that the heat/air accounts for 50% of your bill. What a line of crap I say!! My house isn’t huge but it does have an upstairs and downstairs and runs off one unit. I don’t have a basement either. Oh well. They will get their money one of these days. No hurry to pay them since the electricity is cut off now.

  8. The plastic pipe is back. The new version is called PEX. Its makeup is different from the polybutylene but it is still a plastic composite. If you want to know what is allowed for use as water service line piping call the codes department. Pex can be purchased for about $0.35 per foot. If you dont mind digging your own trench (shovel or rent a small trencher) you can replace the water line yourself and save $$$$$.

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