Woodbury to make financing available for water pipe repairsWoodbury resident Mark Doree is confident when utilities like cable, gas and phone lines break, the service providers will fix it. But when it comes to his curb stop, he wondered “When does it become the homeowner’s responsibility?”
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury resident Mark Doree is confident when utilities like cable, gas and phone lines break, the service providers will fix it.
But when it comes to his curb stop, he wondered “When does it become the homeowner’s responsibility?”
The city of Woodbury saw a jump in curb stop repairs during the winter of 2011, and a couple more in 2012.
For some residents, it was a surprising expense of up to $6,500 to fix a broken curb stop that’s part of their water service line and something they didn’t even realize they had.
The issue became a concern for homeowners as well as City Council because there is no clear understanding of whose responsibility it is to fix.
City Council discussed curb stops once again at a workshop meeting Wednesday, and came up with a new way to finance repair costs.
A curb stop is a valve in the residential water service line that’s meant to turn the water off and on to a single home without affecting others.
The location of the valve is between the water main and the house, varying from home to home.
Except for townhome developments, each single family house should have its own curb stop.
Curb stops, along with the water service line to a residence, are located six to 10 feet underground, which means when they break during the winter, it costs more to dig through frost, according to city staff.
There is a vertical pipe attached to the curb stop that’s set at ground level and allows operation of the curb stop.
The current city code leaves homeowners responsible for any leaks and repairs done between the main water lines to the house, including curb stops.
In the case of a leak, contamination may occur in the rest of the public water supply.
Although no official vote was taken, City Council decided to add a financing option to the current ordinance.
“I just think that’s a lot to ask of people,” Council Member Amy Scoggins said of the costs to repair curb stops, adding that the word “delinquent” shouldn’t be applied in this case when residents don’t pay the bill.
A repayment plan of up to 10 years with interest and a fee schedule would be established if homeowners chose that route, according to the new option.
Along with amending the policy, city staff plans to publish information regarding insurance plans that homeowners can purchase to protect their curb stops.
Council members said they didn’t think it was feasible for the city to take on all repair costs done on curb stops.
Council Member Julie Ohs said people should expect things to break every now and then in older homes.
Council Member Paul Rebholz said it should be clear to homeowners from the get-go that curb stops are part of the home during construction.
He said in future developments, instead of assessing the costs of curb stops on a one-third homeowner, two-thirds city basis, the homeowner would pay 100 percent of their installation.
“That’s the nature of how this stuff works,” Rebholz said, adding that way “there is some purchasing power.”
Staff said if the city were to take on responsibility of every curb stop that breaks, it would add up to at least $35,000 a year.
Additionally, the city would have to raise water rates for all residents.
As the city ages, those costs will keep rising, Public Works Director David Jessup said.
“Sooner or later, these are all going to fail,” he said. “While today we’re seeing a small number, some day we won’t see small numbers.”