August 29, 2013 | 983 views
Cost of replacing water pipes may fall to homeowners
Rule will affect more than half who tore down homes
Homeowners who interrupted their water and sewer service because they were rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy may now face high reconnection costs.
Residents who tore down and rebuilt their homes were required by the city to “cut and cap” their water and sewer service to avoid damage or contamination of the systems. Now that they are coming back on line, city officials say that if workers discover that a house’s water line is old, the homeowner will be charged $2,000 to install a new one.
“Rebuilding and recovery is a stressful and emotional thing,” said City Manager Jack Schnirman. “The city is doing everything possible to assist people in rebuilding.”
Schnirman said that the city is trying to give residents who are rebuilding a break by reducing some costs associated with the cut-and-cap service. Homeowners who want to shut off their water and sewer service must schedule a cut and cap, which usually costs $1,000. Schnirman said that the city has cut this cost in half, charging $250 to cut water service and $250 to cut sewer service.
Diane Kohut, principal clerk of the Water and Sewer Administration, explained that a cut and cap is more complicated than simply flipping a switch. It involves a crew of workers digging up the road to access the pipes, and the process can sometimes take several hours. Kohut said that the amount of work justifies the cost.
If residents just raise a home, there is no reason to cut and cap. But if they tear down completely and rebuild, it is required — and those who do face the possibility of an even greater fee when they reconnect.
First, Kohut said, there is a $250 “road opening” fee. Most sewer lines, she said, need to be replaced, and this fee goes to the Department of Public Works, which hires a private contractor to do the work.
Additionally, if the water line is not a new copper pipe — like those that have been installed throughout Long Beach over the past 10 years — the homeowner must pay $2,000 to have one installed from the city’s mainline to their curb. Kohut predicts that more than half of the people who cut and cap will need the new pipes. But if you live on a block that has had road construction in the past 10 years, she said, you will probably not face the fee.