Leak Adjustment Program defines eligibility

Recent changes to definitions included in the ordinance associated with the Melissa Leak Adjustment Program may have an impact on whether or not residential water leaks may be eligible for coverage. 

The Leak Adjustment Program is designed to adjust charges for water use when a major leak is detected and repaired.  The new language restricts eligibility of these major seepages to what are now referred to as “excusable defect” leaks.

The ordinance lists the following in the “excusable defect” category: a rupture or leakage of the customer’s underground water lines from the meter to the foundation and/or under the foundation as may be caused by freezing weather, settlement, corrosion, wear or accident.

Carrie Mikeska, Administrative Services Manager, says that normal household leaks do not fall into this definition.  “The term ‘excusable defect’ does not include or apply to defective or out-of-repair faucets, internal wall plumbing, sprinkler systems, sprinkler heads, sprinkler lines, sprinkler solenoids, swimming pools, auto-fill pool equipment, toilets, toilet flappers and any outdoor fixture or accessory such as an outdoor kitchen,” she said.

Monetary adjustments for major leaks determined to be in the “excusable defect” category will be made for no longer than two consecutive months. 

“Leaks like the kind covered by the program are more serious than normal and should be repaired promptly,” she added. “Homeowners with applicable leaks must file a sworn written application within 30 days of the repair of the eligible leak, and customers may only apply for one adjustment in any 24-month period for any one account.”

In addition, there may be documents, statements, and declarations that must be submitted relating to the leak and its repair before the adjustment is granted.  Once a leak is determined as an “excusable defect,” a formula that looks at the average water use of the home prior to when the eligible leak is detected is applied.  That amount is subtracted from the water bill(s) in question, and the remaining amount is determined to be “excess usage.”  The charges for excess usage will be adjusted at one-half the regular rate.

“In most cases, when an adjustment is approved, modifications will be made to subsequent bills, subtracting the adjustment amount from monthly water charges.  In some extreme cases, a refund may be authorized,” she said.

Of special note is that there is no additional or separate funding for the Leak Adjustment Program.  The money for the program comes from the Utility Fund, which is used to pay for all of the equipment, personnel, and material used to purchase, store, and distribute the water provided by the City.   

Information on the Leak Adjustment Program can be obtained online under the Utility Billing page of www.cityofmelissa.com or by contacting the Utility Billing Department at (972) 838-2035.  Customers may visit the office at City Hall, 3411 Barker Ave. during normal working hours.