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Who should maintain lateral pipes?

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Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:00 am

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, an article entitled "Lodi landlords wrestle with water billing issues" appeared online in the News-Sentinel.

While reading the article, it appeared the main discussion was about landlords with multiple tenants and how to bill for water usage, since there will be only one water meter per property. Other discussion included the maintenance of lateral pipes. Per the article, currently the city of Lodi maintains not only the water mains, but also the lateral pipes that run from the main in the street up to the house.

I emailed a council member and asked if the maintenance of these pipes was being shifted to property owners. The response to my email stated that city staff requested a policy be written stating that property owners are responsible for maintenance of the lateral pipes. I asked where I could find the current policy on this subject matter, and was told there is no current written policy.

Since the change is in the discussion stage, I was told this is the time property owners should let the City Council know if they object to or agree with a policy stating property owners are to maintain the lateral water pipes.

Please notify the City Council members (through the city clerk) what you want done regarding lateral pipe maintenance in the city of Lodi — either the city maintains the lateral pipes, or property owners maintain the lateral pipes.

Now is the time to make your opinion known.

Judy Botts


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:41 pm on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    I've never, in 30+ years of plumbing and pipefitting have installed any new piping application that didn't have to be tested, no matter how large or small, by either a licensed plumbing or fire protection inspector. Normally had i been doing a small meter project as these in Lodi involving a saddle on a water main and a run of 1/2, 3/4, 1 or 2 inch piping including a water meter and the piping up to the shutoff/ control valve at the residence, I would have been asked to isolate that section of piping between the main and the shutoff valve at the residence, after I flushed the piping sytem for the inspector to remove all debris, stones or other obstacles that would impair the flow of water, and hydrostatically test the piping system for leaks and to assure it holds pressure. One day after they finished our street, my elderly neighbor asked me if I could come over and check his bathroom and kitchen sinks and toilet to see why the waer was so murky and dirty and the pressure was way down. He said it took his toilet about 45 minutes to fill and there was grit and dark water coming from his faucets. My experience told me that the new piping hadn't been flushed and that care was not taken to keep dirt, pebbles, grit and debris from the piping while installing it. When checking his toilet I found that the small outlet orifice that supplied the water to fill his toilet was nearly completely plugged with black grit like particles, definitely caused by careless workers. I just wonder how many water meter customers weren't so lucky and had to call the local plumber out to repair the problem and paying an extra two hundred dollars or so for poor work quality by not flushing the piping before connecting it. And I also wonder where all of the "cookies" went that were drilled from the water mains wen installing the tapping saddles and drilling the holes? I've always had to dig them out of my hole saw and wire them to the saddle or mechanical tee to prove that I didn't let it fall back into the piping that was drilled. And any time I used saddles/tapping tees in a series on a city water or fire main, I was required to flush that main to prove that there was no foreign objects, debris or any other matter or material in that section of piping that could cause the piping system to become plugged or impair the full flow of water. I didn't see the city of Lodi requiring any of these factors and if not, the chances for contamination of the water supply is at risk. I'd always heard that the city of Lodi inspectors were easy to "distract", especially the fire inspectors, and they always used the "honor system" with the same old city contractors who seem to always get the low bids on most Lodi contracts, sometimes rumored they weren't the lowest or given "preferential" information that would let them lowball a bid no one else could match, and then given other work added to the project or promised a large amount of change order or extra work money to assure them the super low bid and the contract and then load them up with extras and side work to make their tidy profits for them. Being a fitter with a two breasted company and working both sides while always getting my union benefits and wages and also doing some bidding/estimating on both sides of the fence, I can pretty well tell you how the game is played.

  • Ed Walters posted at 12:40 pm on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 631

    Mr. Chaney: As I stated in my prior post, one unit, one meter, case closed. Most if not all housed when they were built had a water box with a spacer bar, the space bar is the length of the meter. By closing off the intake valve and removing 4 nuts and bolts the spacer bar can be removed and a meter can be installed in a matter of minutes. No digging required. Since the unit will have it`s own meter, the city will bill that unit since all new meters are read electronicly, no more meter readers,just like electric and gas meters, all the landlord has to worry about is collecting the rent.

    Teichert is a well known and respected contractor, no matter if union or non-union the contractor must follow the same rules and regulation, and will be inspected by the city. If it doesn`t leak it was done right, as the work cannot be tested.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:53 am on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    This still doesn't solve the problem of all residential users paying for the amount of water they use. Landlords should have a payment system based on the number of occupants in each particular apartment or unit with only one meter serving the multi family units. And the city should be responsible for any and all piping installed by the street patching/ laborer crews from the contractor. I doubt any of these laborers were licensed plumbers and any work done by Teichert and these crews should be maintained either by them or the city of Lodi. I'd like to see the "punch list" of callbacks that were required to assure residents that the work was done right the first time and the property was left in the same clean condition as when the project was started. I'm surfe the city of Lodi and the public works director will be able to pass an ordinance pawning the responsibility off to someone other than themselves. I hope this doesn't turn out to be like the electric meter fiasco where some landlords charged tenants a total of more than the utility bill totaled for several years without anyone calling them on it. To be equitable to all multi family unit residents, each unit must be metered seperately, allowing the public works department to see which dwellings use a large amount of water for their dwelling and family size and by comparing bills allowing the department to see which of these units have severe water pipe problems such as major drips or even broken pipe or faucets and taps that leak or run constantly. Why should a single person or young couple pay the same water rate as a family with many young children? The COL needs to come up with a plan other than their non compliant they are still using for those without meters. And every business and structure in Lodi should be metered as well.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 2:51 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 541

    Ed, your are absolutely correct.

  • Ed Walters posted at 12:59 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 631

    Ms. Botts: With only one meter serving several units, I can only think that there is one meter called a Master Meter, with the residents paying a flat fee, just like the city of Lodi before individual meters were installed. With a singel meter per household, you pay for what you use. There is a single pipe that delivers water to the unit, a meter could be installed ( if possable ) next to the unit, as it would have to be in all units. The property owner would be responsible for installation rather than the renters.

    I do believe the home owner is responsible for the water pipe any where past and including the meter, as the homeowner paid for the meter to be installed to begin with. As with all new homes, either 3/4" or 1" PVC is used to bring water from the meter to the valve at the house.


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