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Measure may ease financial drain of water leaks

County customers could see relief

POSTED: May 9, 2014 12:03 a.m.
 

FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County water customers may soon get some relief if they experience high bills as a result of leaks.

During a work session Tuesday, the county commission voted 5-0 to approve a modification in the local leak adjustment policy.

Tim Perkins, director of the county’s water and sewer department, said the measure would reduce the amount customers pay when they experience a major leakage.

“Basically, the goal here of what we’re asking for is to allow us to modify our leak adjustment policy to be a little more forgiving,” he said.

In essence, the policy adjustment brings the cost of excess water used as a result of a leak down from the rate previously set in the old policy, which was either $4.53 or $3.40 per 1,000 gallons, to a standard $1.75 per 1,000 gallons.

The old leak rates were based on water used for irrigation purpose versus standard uses.

While the previous rates were a reduction from the standard ones,

Perkins said the costs could still be difficult to pay for many people who suffered a major leak.

As an example, Perkins cited a customer who had “almost a million gallons of water leak through an irrigation system.”

“He had almost a $10,000 water bill and he got a leak adjustment and dropped that down to around $4,000,” Perkins said. “But that’s still $4,000, and for some people that’s hard.”

Perkins said $1.75 per 1,000 gallons is a reasonable amount in that it allows the department to still “recover our costs to produce the water, plus some for handling the leak adjustment” without profiting from customers’ misfortune.

“At the same time, we don’t want this to be a recurring issue,” Perkins added. “We’ve got limits on how often they can get leak adjustments. [And] if we feel they need to replace their plumbing system after the leak adjustment, I can require them to do that.”

The $1.75-per-1,000-gallon-rate would be applied to amounts of water used that were above a customer’s “normal bill.” 

“If it’s an irrigation season, we pick their normal irrigation pattern and charge them the price we would expect them to have used from the year before,” Perkins explained.

“They pay the normal bill. And the excess water, under this policy, they would be charged $1.75 per 1,000 gallons instead of $3.40 or $4.53.”

Perkins said the leak adjustment rate would be “brought back to the board every couple of years” and could be changed if needed.

 

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