Another water issue

Reading of a family’s on-going battle with the Snead Town Council reminded me of an experience I had with the Oneonta Utility Board. I won’t pretend to know who is right and who is wrong in the Snead squabble over a broken water line, but I can relate. I had experience with a similar problem.

You can imagine my concern when last fall I was raking leaves and stepped into a soggy, water filled area of my yard, then finding water running like a spring out of the meter box. I immediately called a plumber, and thankfully found one who came right away and repaired a broken pipe. The cause was roots from shrubbery, but how long water had been running and how many gallons had been released was anyone’s guess.

“You’ll find out when you get your water bill,” the plumber said.

Well, now imagine my opening a $700+ bill. Not good for an aging heart. With bill in hand, knot in throat, and no doubt a pitiful look on my face, I headed for the utilities office. There I was met with smiling, understanding and (best of all) courteous personnel who worked with me in adjusting the bill to what it would have normally been. Because the leak had crossed a billing cycle, I returned the next month for further adjustment.

Thank you again, ladies of the Oneonta Utilities Board office. Your gracious help and obvious willingness to serve those who pay taxes was refreshing and much appreciated. Often so-called “public servants” seem to be oblivious and uncaring to the needs of those they are paid to serve.

And by the way, such adjustment can understandably be allowed only once a year. You can bet I check my system for leaks on a regular basis, and suggest everyone do so.

Otis Headley, Oneonta Editor’s note In an article earlier this year (Jan. 11, How do you charge for a $1,000 (or more) water leak?) Snead utilities supervisor addressed this issue. Whited said that water utilities that are fully owned – like Oneonta – have more flexibility in their adjustment policies than those departments that have outstanding debt and are controlled by bond holders. Cleveland utilities superintendent Steve Pass echoed that statement.“We are required to bill for the full number of gallons that go through that meter,” he said.