Southampton Board creates policy for water leaks

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

COURTLAND—In response to some residential water customers who have had remarkable leaks, a water leak billing adjustment policy has been established that could help future county homeowners if they too have significant leaks and also meet certain criteria.

County Administrator Mike Johnson told the Southampton County Board of Supervisors during its Monday meeting about a customer in Branchville who “through no fault of his own…lost more than 300,000 gallons before his leak was discovered and repaired, incurring water and sewer charges in excess of $4,000.”

There had been an adjustment on the sewer side based on existing policy, but that left more than $1,600 on the water side. A customer in Newsoms had a similar instance, though a smaller amount. Still, she reportedly has more than $700 to pay for the excess water.

Guidelines for sewer use were established in 2006 when going from flat to metered rates. The reasoning for not creating a policy for water issue was that “even though the water hadn’t been used, it had been furnished, and the customer still had a responsibility to pay for it.”

A proposed water policy — which is retroactive to this past January — was approved by six of the seven members; Carl Faison was absent.

The utilities director may adjust water billings when all of the following requirements are met:

1. Customer shall notify the County and complete a Courtesy Leak Adjustment Application for the period in which the loss occurred.

2. The Director of Utilities, or his designated representative, shall inspect the property and verify that the leak has been repaired. If repairs are completed by a third party, receipts can be provided in lieu of visual inspection.

3. Only one property side leak adjustment shall be allowed in each 12-month period. The 12-month period begins the first month of the billing period following the billing period the Leak Adjustment Application covered. For example, if the Leak Adjustment Application was for a bill covering January, the 12-month period commences on Feb. 1.

4. The customer’s account must be in good standing at the time of the Courtesy Leak Adjustment Application submission.

5. The amount of the excess usage shall be determined by the Director of Utilities. Excess usage, as a result of a property side leak, must exceed average normal consumption by at least 25 percent.

6. Adjustments will be provided for a maximum of two months (current month and one month preceding) based upon the customer’s usage during the same two months, one year prior. If this information is unavailable, the adjustment shall equal an average of the previous three months.