When a 42-unit apartment building\’s water main blew underground, it was a nasty surprise: Water gushed like a river from the sidewalks and the flower beds in front of property in The Bronx.
Bigger still was the sticker shock: The building paid a $23,000 repair bill because if a water line into your building breaks, the cooperative or condominium has to pay for it — unless your co-op or condo belongs to a new program introduced by New York City.
On average, it\’s $3,000 to $5,000 to repair a water line break and between $10,000 and $15,000 to repair a sewer line in New York City, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Many condo and co-op boards don\’t realize that buildings are responsible for maintaining their water service lines, which run from inside the property to the city-owned water main in the street. The damage isn\’t usually covered by insurance.
Take heart: There\’s now a safety net for some co-ops and condos. The DEP and the private company American Water Resource (AWR) last month announced the launch of the Water and Sewer Service Line Protection Program for smaller residential properties throughout the city.
The service line protection program provides unlimited protection for covered repairs from normal wear and tear and basic restoration of the affected property. It also offers, for an unlimited number of claims, round-the-clock customer service and New York City-licensed master plumbers qualified to perform needed repairs. There are no claim forms to submit and no deductibles, and the protection fee will be itemized and included on each participating customer\’s DEP water and sewer bill.
There are roughly 670,000 properties in New York City that can take advantage of this program. Eligible properties include residential, mixed-use, and single- or multi-family dwellings that are metered with wireless meter-reading devices. They must be billed on flat-rate or metered charges and be current on DEP charges or have a payment agreement. And they must be equipped with a meter pipe that is two inches or less in diameter.
Water line protection is $3.99 per month; sewer line protection is $7.99, and sign up can be for one or both. In the future, the New York City Water Board will approve annual rates for the service line protection programs at the same time it adopts DEP water and service charges.
If properties are in the program, they will be more likely to fix their leaks promptly, which is an advantage for the city, explains Alan Rothschild, president of Vantage Group, a water-cost management and analysis firm. The program will also reduce the expense to the DEP of shutting down water to service line leaks that have not been repaired.
\”It\’s a great idea,\” says Peter von Simson, the chief executive officer of New Bedford Management. \”It could potentially work for larger properties as well, but they would probably have to increase prices. It\’s interesting to see government and private business partnering and coming up with something reasonably priced.\”
Source: Habitat Magazine