Customers of the Hartsville/Trousdale Water Department will soon see some changes to the leak adjustment policy – and some changes to their monthly bills as a result.
Beginning Dec. 1, the department will begin utilizing ServLine Leak Protection, an insurance-type policy that will compensate the Water Department for losses due to leaks. According to General Manager Tommy McFarland, Hartsville Water lost close to $60,000 last year in uncompensated water usage.
All HTWD customers are being automatically enrolled into the ServLine program, which will cost $3.20 per month. Customers can receive an adjustment once per year under the policy, which will cover a water bill up to $2,500.
“This comes out Dec. 1, so it’ll be on January’s bill,” McFarland said. “We wrote off $60,000 in debt last year. That’ll pay for a loan to fix a water tank if needed with no rate increase.”
Kirk Smith, an official with the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, spoke last week to members of the Hartsville Rotary Club to explain the program. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Video of Smith’s talk is available on The Vidette’s Facebook page.)
“If a customer chooses to opt out of the program, they can do so; there’s no penalty, no fee,” Smith said. “If they want back in at a later date, all they have to do is call the Water Department. They can be re-enrolled after a 30-day wait period.”
One change that will benefit customers is that under ServLine, customers requiring a leak adjustment will only pay their average monthly bill, rather than the 25 percent of a higher bill under the current policy.
Customers can choose to opt out of the ServLine program by calling the Water Department. However, the utility emphasizes that customers who opt out will not be covered by any leak adjustment policy and will be responsible for the entire amount of their bill if a leak causes water usage to surge.
Smith said having an automatic enrollment rather than allowing customers to opt in allowed the $3.20 rate, which otherwise would be higher.
Adjustments will not be made to water bills for: commercial or industrial buildings, abandoned properties, leaks to irrigation systems, swimming pools or agriculture barns.
ServLine will also offer an additional plan that covers repairs to the water line – from the meter to the foundation of a residential building – at a cost of $5 per month. Customers will not be automatically signed up for service line policies and must choose to take that protection by calling the Water Department.
Most homeowner insurance plans do not cover the water line in a yard unless it has been specifically added to the policy, Smith noted. He also noted that many consumers are unaware that water lines on their side of the meter are their own responsibility and not that of the water utility.
The service line policy covers up to $10,000 in repairs and has no deductible and no annual limit. To be able to choose the service line policy, customers must have the leak adjustment policy in place.
“You’re not automatically enrolled in (water line),” McFarland said. “You have to ask for it.”
ServLine currently is used by 72 water utilities in Tennessee, according to Smith, and is used in 35 states across the nation.
The Water Department has sent mailers included with water bills to customers and will do so again before the new policy takes effect in December.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.