The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 24, 2014

Cost of frost-free pipes steams customers

CONNEAUT — Customers advised by the city to let faucets run to keep pipes from freezing are now coming to Conneaut City Hall seeking relief from higher-than-usual water bills, officials said.

As a result, the city is fashioning a policy to deal with future frozen pipe issues, City Manager Tim Eggleston said this week.

Earlier this year, when temperatures routinely dipped below freezing, the city was inundated with complaints about frozen water pipes. Once the problems was corrected, customers were told to let faucets drip to create a flow of water.

In some cases, those drips have added up and people are now asking if refunds are possible, Finance Director John Williams said.

“Inquiries are trickling in,” he said. “Some people want 100 percent credit.”

Most folks seeking some kind of credit are presenting bills that jumped $40 or $50 a month, Williams said. In some cases, however, customers claim running faucets as recommended by the city cost them as much as $300, he said.

Many bills have already been adjusted due to the unique circumstances, Williams said. “Everyone who ran their water had excessive bills and saw some adjustments,” he said.

In cases where bills skyrocketed, the trick is figuring out whether a running faucet was the cause of the increase and not a leaky toilet or some other water-waster, officials said.

The frozen pipe situation this past winter was almost unprecedented, administrators said. Statistics are being compiled on the matter and a special policy will be developed, Eggleston said.

“This is new territory,” he said. “We know people won’t be shut off.”

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