The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 12, 2013

Water Works rate increases approaching

Rural water sees no increase, but weather-related leaks continue to cause spikes in customers’ bills

(Continued)

OTTUMWA — Leaks cause increased water bills in rural areas

Wapello County Rural Water Association manager Lee Asher said leaks happen every winter with the continual shift from hot to cold weather and back again.

“It’s not uncommon,” Asher said.

Just as Ottumwa Water Works and Hydro dealt with a large water main break Friday morning, rural water ran to four 16-inch water main breaks last month, as well as two recent 6-inch water main breaks on Bluegrass Road.

“It’s just part of our world,” he said. “We’ll give them a leak adjustment if they’re at three times their average bill.”

For example, if a customer typically uses 3,000 gallons of water a month, but with a leak their bill shows that they used 9,000 gallons of water in a month, the rural water board can approve a leak adjustment, where they pay the extra 6,000 gallons of water at a lower rate.

“One customer I talked to said they saved $88 on that bill from a leakage,” he said. “This is something we see every winter. It just happens.”

In comparison, Ottumwa Water Works sees more leaks than rural water does, but it’s because Ottumwa’s system is older and has cast iron mains vs. rural water’s PVC plastic pipe mains, which tend to be more flexible.

“But I don’t know if any pipe is going to be bulletproof when it comes to leaks,” he said.

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