City ARPA Program Can Help Home Owners with Underground Broken Water/Sewer Lines

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Article Contributed by
Jamestown Board of Public Utilities

City property owners who experience broken sewer lateral or water lines on their properties may apply through the end of June to an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) program designed by the City of Jamestown to help fund repairs.

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (BPU) previously announced that the costly responsibility to fix such underground breaks lies with property owners. For this reason, the BPU has urged property owners to check their standard home insurance policies about this issue and research if customized water and sewer line insurance should be added to their insurance documents.

Residents have been advised to investigate if insurance could prevent them from incurring huge expenses to repair or replace broken water or sewer lines.

A few insurance companies sell policies specifically aimed at this problem, often sending letters through the mail offering policies focused only on repair or replacement of water and sewer lines on private property.

When considering insurance for this coverage from any type of insurance company, residents are advised to read all details carefully and ask questions to determine how much coverage would be available in case of such an occurrence.

Property owners may even decide to begin putting side money themselves to handle such a repair in the future, especially if they own a building which is older than forty years.

With this issue in mind, the City of Jamestown developed a Roof, Sewer Lateral and Water Line Repair Program to fix buildings purchased in “as is” condition as a result of private purchase or tax foreclosure or that have been damaged by fire or vandalism.

To be eligible, applicants must own and occupy a single-family home or own and occupy at least one unit of a two-family unit. Household income cannot be more than $96,125, which is 125% of the area’s median Income. City, County and School taxes must be paid and not subject to foreclosure. Home- owners must sign an Anti-Speculation and Property Maintenance Agreement and maintain the property as their primary resident for five years.

Homeowners must also be current on BPU accounts and have homeowner’s insurance. For more information on this funding, calls may be directed to Crystal Surdyk, city development director, at 716-483-7659 or Stephanie Wright at 716-483-7654.

By way of explanation, toilets, showers, sinks and other appliances are connected to drain lines that lead outward on personal property to the BPU sewer line. In the same way, water lines are located from the house to the BPU line, usually located near the street on the edge of a yard or in what is called the terrace, the area between the curb and sidewalk.

Potential sewer and water line problems include: sagging pipe, blockages, corrosion of metal pipe, misaligned pipes, breaks and cracks in pipes or joints and tree roots that move toward water sources.

Signs of problems with sewer lines on your property begin with a strange smell coming from indoor drains; a slow drain; clogs and backups isolated to one area of your home; a soggy foul-smelling lawn; insects and rodents coming into your home; wet spots on your home ceilings, walls or floors; and soil washing away from the side of the foundation.

Some water line troubles may cause weaker water pressure; common clogging of drains; and leaks around water heaters.

Property owners can prevent such problems by having water and sewer lines inspected by a licensed plumbing contractor every few years. A list of master plumbers in BPU territory is available on our website at www.jamestownbpu.com. Residents should never put fats, grease or oils down drains or flush paper products besides toilet paper. A backflow prevention device can be installed in buildings. Tree roots may be cut periodically. Landowners should contact a plumbing contractor at the first sign of trouble.